The government Friday acknowledged the first two deaths of mainland Chinese attributed to AIDS, one of them a drug user, and a senior health official warned the disease "has become a reality in China."

The Ministry of Public Health, in statements carried by the state-run China Daily and the official Xinhua news agency, reported the two AIDS carriers, both men, died this year of infections related to the HIV virus.Although foreigners and overseas Chinese have been stricken by AIDS in China, it was the first time deaths of Chinese citizens on the mainland were directly attributed to acquired immune deficiency syndrome since Beijing began reporting the disease in the mid-1980s.