University students to take AIDS test

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University students in east China's Zhejiang Province are to undergo physical examinations in an effort to get an accurate picture of the HIV/AIDS infection rate among the student population.

The results will help related departments work out detailed and effective measures to control and prevent the disease from spreading further, according to Zhejiang Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which is running the program.

The move comes after the Hangzhou branch of the CDC found eight HIV carriers during a spot check of 2,000 university students at three universities, a case rate of 0.4 percent.

According to research conducted by the CDC, there are an increasing number of university students aged 19 to 23 who are HIV carriers or AIDS patients, Xinhua News Agency quoted a Zhejiang CDC official as having said.

Sexual contact is the major route of transmission for the virus and gay men are at higher risk of contracting the disease, the official said.

Zhejiang CDC has yet to disclose when the examinations will begin and how many students will be involved in the program.

At the end of May, there were more than 100 new HIV carriers and AIDS patients in Hangzhou, a 7.28 percent increase compared to the same period last year, according to statistics from the Hangzhou CDC.

About 3.7 percent of the city's new carriers are students, the majority of which contracted the disease via sexual contact. Among them, 48.3 percent are gay.

The use of condoms is the most effective means of protection against the virus, said an official of Shanghai CDC, who added that multiple sexual partners posed a high risk of infection.

Universities in China are stepping up their efforts to educate students about sexual health and how to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS.

"We have a lecture on AIDS prevention for all freshmen at our university, because we have noticed that university students are more and more sexually open," said Xu Liyun, a tutor at Shanghai International Studies University.

"Some students may feel embarrassed at the lecture, but we insist on their attending in order to protect them from getting hurt due to a lack of knowledge," she explained.

The Red Cross also periodically joins forces with campus doctors to educate students on how to protect themselves from contracting the virus, Xu added.

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