AIDS Comes to China
China is a country of superlatives, of ‘mosts’ and ‘largests’, and it is also extraordinarily diverse. Nearly one in every five people on the planet is a citizen of China – an astonishing 1.37 billion people in all. They are scattered across a vast area that spans over 5000 kms and borders on 14 other countries – that gives China more neighbours than any other nation. The people of China are scattered across deserts, lush river valleys and mountains both tropical and icy, but well over half are now crowded into the country’s rapidly growing cities – places that are bursting with ambition and enterprise. The central government and all the most important bodies of the Communist Party that has ruled the country since 1949 sit in the capital Beijing, in Northeastern China. Increasingly, though, the nation’s 23 provinces, 4 municipalities, 5 autonomous regions and 2 special administrative regions are taking charge of their own health and welfare programmes. (In this book, for the sake of brevity, we refer to all of these first-level administrative divisions as ‘provinces’.) It is this amazing country that serves as the backdrop to the story that unfolds in the pages ahead.