HIV cases among Guangzhou youth rising by 20%

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The number of young people — those between 15 and 24 years old — infected by the HIV virus in China’s southern city of Guangzhou is rising by 20 percent a year, local health authorities said yesterday, which was also World AIDS Day.

Since 2008, there has been an annual increase of 13 percent in the number of HIV/AIDS cases in Guangzhou with 90 percent of the new cases blamed on unprotected sex.

Guangzhou is targeting homosexuals, prostitutes and people with sexually transmitted diseases in its AIDS prevention and control drive, according to Guangzhou-based Yangcheng Evening News.

Controlling the spread of the HIV virus among homosexuals is the biggest target in the AIDS campaign, said Tang Xiaoping of Guangzhou Health Bureau.

Guangzhou reported 1,148 new HIV cases in the first 10 months of this year, bringing the total number of HIV/AIDS cases to 5,852, the highest in the entire Guangdong Province.

Of those infected, 1,979 had developed AIDS while 785 died from the deadly disease.

The rising tendency of mortality in the previous years has been curbed by the anti-virus therapy with the number of deaths due to the disease dropping by a third compared to last year, Tang said.

Officials said that virus transmission through sex, especially among the homosexual community, is on the rise.

Young people infected with the deadly virus were becoming more prevalent with the number of cases rising from 101 in 2008 to last year’s 203.

The number of students who had contracted HIV grew from seven cases in 2008 to last year’s 25, making a total of 111 cases.

The Guangdong Province Health and Family Planning Commission said the province had reported 41,922 HIV/AIDS cases by October this year, while experts estimated the province is now home to about 68,000 people infected with HIV.

There were 7,030 new HIV cases in the province, including 2,534 AIDS patients in the first 10 months — a rise of 2.2 percent.

The number of AIDS-related deaths was 1,331 — down 12.5 percent compared to the same period last year, the commission said.

Sex was the main carrier of the disease in about 85 percent of the new cases in Guangdong, with homosexuals accounting for over 20 percent.

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