Vice-premier says they're ignoring national policy on disease Vice-Premier Wu Yi yesterday attacked local officials for disregarding national policy on Aids prevention and treatment, as the number of confirmed cases rose to a new high. The official number of people infected with HIV rose to 135,630 by the end of September, up 50,000 to 60,000 from last year, according to the State Council's Work Committee on Aids Prevention and Treatment. But this figure was only 16 per cent of the estimated actual total of 840,000. Ms Wu blamed inadequate monitoring and testing for the shortfall. 'The Aids epidemic situation in our country is still grave,' she told health and provincial officials through video-conferencing. One of the biggest forms of Aids transmission has been blood transfusions, especially in rural areas where poor people sell their blood and plasma. But the latest report shows the sharing of needles by drug users has become the most common form of transmission, accounting for 40.8 per cent of infections. Blood transfusions accounted for 23 per cent of infections and sexual transmission 9 per cent. About 23 per cent were infected through unknown means, but it is believed most of these were cases of sexual transmission. Ms Wu pointed at local officials for not fully supporting the national campaign on providing free treatment to patients and education about prevention. 'Some think that promoting Aids prevention and treatment could affect the local area's image and its business and investment opportunities,' she said. 'Some are blindly optimistic, thinking that the local situation was not that serious ... Some are still debating whether they should distribute condoms, provide methadone treatment and clean needles.' To solve this problem, Ms Wu suggested local governments enhance staff training. She added that there should be wider education through the media. Officials have indicated a tougher stance on combating Aids in recent years by admitting the severity of the epidemic in the country. President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao have made personal visits and shaken hands with Aids patients and HIV carriers in front of TV cameras to highlight the issue. Health officials started a policy last year to give free medical treatment to Aids patients and to provide orphans of Aids parents with free education. Provincial leaders from Hunan , Hubei , Yunnan , Henan and Sichuan told of their experiences in implementing such measures at the conference yesterday. Cheng Yingxuan , vice-governor of Yunnan, one of the worst-hit provinces, said prevention work had been difficult there because of a lack of professional talent and poor working conditions.