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Chinese Public Awareness of AIDS Still Low: Survey

A recent survey shows that the Chinese public, especially those residing in rural areas, know little about AIDS and how to prevent the deadly disease.

"It is very dangerous," said an official with the State Family Planning Commission (SFPC) here Monday, adding that low public awareness of AIDS will cause serious harmful effects in China.

With support from the United Nations Children's Fund, the Ford Foundation and the United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS, the SFPC conducted the survey in December, 2000 among about 7,000 residents of Beijing, Shanghai, Heilongjiang, Henan and other regions.

The survey found that nearly 20 percent of those questioned had never heard of AIDS. Among those who responded that they had heard of AIDS, only 22.7 percent knew that the disease is spread by a virus.

A large number of respondents knew that avoiding sexual promiscuity can prevent AIDS. But only knowing that fact is far from enough, said the organizer of the survey.

In the survey, 50.3 percent of those questioned knew that AIDS cannot be cured. However, only 29 percent had worried about being infected by the disease. Over 70 percent never thought trying to prevent the spread of the disease.

The survey also found that the Chinese public fear and detest HIV-positive and AIDS patients. At the same time, extramarital sex poses a hidden problem for China's prevention of AIDS.

Statistics show that 22,517 persons were reported HIV-positive at the end of 2000, up 30 percent on 1999.

Most Chinese HIV-positive persons live in rural areas, and 71 percent of the HIV-positive persons were contracted with the virus through intravenous injection of drugs.

Finding an effective way to control the spread of AIDS is urgently required, said Pan Guiyu, vice director of the SFPC, adding that the commission will increase cooperation with Chinese health departments and international organizations to promote prevention knowledge on the disease in China.

(People’s Daily 04/10/2001)

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