About 20 per cent of the mainland's HIV carriers have died of Aids, leaving an estimated 840,000 living carriers, a national health official said. Wang Xinlun, the director of the public education centre of the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, told Beijing Youth Daily that the number of living carriers was less than the one million estimate announced by the Ministry of Health in February because this number included about 220,000 who had died from the disease. The Ministry of Health has also revealed that by the end of last month, the mainland had more than 80,000 Aids cases. In the first six months of this year, the number of reported Aids cases had risen 140.1 per cent. The number of reported HIV carriers rose 20.3 per cent in the same period. The ministry report did not reveal actual numbers for either carriers or Aids cases. The report also said the ministry had set up 54 'demonstrational zones' in 11 provinces to provide 'comprehensive treatment' to HIV carriers and Aids patients. 'The demonstrational zone programme was started in March,' the report said. 'It will be expanded to 100 counties by the end of the year.' It said the authorities would provide free treatment to HIV carriers and Aids patients in these zones if they had contracted the disease through a blood transfusion. The mainland has given the green light to two domestic manufacturers to produce medicines to treat Aids that will cost much less than those made by foreign producers. 'Once the cost of treatment [falls], the state will be able to provide free treatment to more patients,' Mr Wang was quoted saying. Foreign experts have warned that the mainland is facing an Aids epidemic and they have predicted that the country's HIV and Aids population could reach 10 million by 2010 if the infection rates continue unchecked. 'By the end of last month, the mainland had more than 80,000 Aids cases'