China says it is sharply increasing government spending on AIDS prevention in an effort to limit the spread of (HIV) the virus that causes the disease.

The China Daily reports the annual budget for AIDS prevention programs will rise to 185-million dollars over the next two years - nearly twice the $99 million spent this year on anti-AIDS campaigns.

Beijing's spending on AIDS prevention has increased dramatically since 2001, when $12 million was budgeted for such efforts.

Wednesday's announcement says China intends to drastically reduce the spread of HIV and AIDS, aiming for a maximum 1.5 million infections by 2010.

Beijing says 840,000 Chinese are currently HIV-positive, but some experts believe that sharply understates the true extent of infection (in the world's most populous country). The World Health Organization estimates the AIDS virus could spread to up to 10 million Chinese during the next five years.

Some information for this report provided by Reuters.