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Improving accessibility to national HIV/AIDS statistics is an important first step in controlling the disease in China, says an editorial in Nature.

The country has traditionally kept strict control over such data, but has loosened its grip since the SARS outbreak in 2002–2003.

The editorial claims China is slowly accepting the idea that society can benefit from data-sharing — as shown by the full access to government medical data given to an international team of researchers examining HIV prevalence in southern China.

But opening up information is not the same as controlling the spread of infection, warns the editorial — more is needed if the Chinese government is to meet its target of limiting the total number of HIV infection to 1.5 million by 2010.

Still, the editorial praises China for its transparency and says other countries should follow suit.

Link to the full article in Nature