North Korea says it is 'AIDS-free,' thanks to healthcare system

Pyongyang said there is "not a single AIDS patient" in the country on World AIDS Day.
By Elizabeth Shim Contact the Author   |   Dec. 1, 2015 at 9:57 AM
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SEOUL, Dec. 1 (UPI) -- North Korea said it is an "AIDS-free zone" on World AIDS Day and credited its healthcare system for disease prevention.

"The most superior socialist healthcare system was established [in North Korea], and the most people-centered policies are being carried out, which is why there is not a single AIDS patient in our country," North Korea said in an editorial in the Minju Choson, a state-controlled newspaper.

Pyongyang said it would actively protect the life and health of North Koreans through "surveillance" and continued "propaganda campaigns" to build awareness of disease prevention.

The statement is not North Korea's first. On World AIDS Day 2014, Pyongyang also said that not a single AIDS patient exists in the country, an editorial that ran in the Japan-based pro-Pyongyang outlet Choson Sinbo.

KCNA reported North Korea observed World AIDS Day at the People's Palace of Culture in Pyongyang, with the World Health Organization representative in North Korea in attendance, among others.

World AIDS Day is one of eight official global public health campaigns designated by WHO.

An estimated 36.9 million people globally have HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, and 26 new infections occur every hour around the world, Al Jazeera reported.

There are no independent statistics on North Korea AIDS infections, but Pyongyang has previously claimed it has developed a vaccine to prevent the virus.

North Korea's independently developed "Kumdang No. 2 Vaccine" was touted as an extraordinary panacea, and the remedy contains "rare earth resources" and includes ginseng extract, according to KCNA in June.

South Korea press reported the claims remain dubious, if not absurd.

Other diseases have posed enormous health risks in North Korea, and according to the U.N. 2,500 North Korean die from tuberculosis alone.

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