According to a new survey, the number of people with HIV in Henan Province is over 25,000.
Following unprecedented testing of people who may have sold blood between 1992 and 1996, the province has pegged the number of infected people at 25,036 while the number of people with AIDS is 11,815.
Some 280,476 people in the province sold blood during those years and the survey has revealed a far greater epidemic in the province than expected, raising estimates by about 20,000, Xinhua News Agency reported.
An official from the Henan Provincial Health Bureau said, "HIV has an incubation period, usually four to eight years. Now is the time that most of the carriers might develop AIDS. This large scale survey aimed to find them all."
The survey was backed by the Ministry of Health and other provinces are expected to follow suit.
"We paid special attention to migrant workers from the province. They were informed to go back home and get blood tests," the official said.
Their transportation was covered by the local government and those who could not go back were encouraged to send blood samples.
Results showed that a little more than 8 percent of the people who once sold their blood were infected.
In some areas of the province, the percentage was even higher.
In Shenqiu County, one of the 13 hardest hit areas, the percentage reached more than 20 percent in some villages.
There are still about 180 migrant workers from the county who have not been tested.
"They will be tested when they come back to spend Spring Festival at home," said Xin Tianyi from the county's hospital. "We do not want to miss a single person."
Since the first case of AIDS was found in the province in 1995, Henan has been at the center of the national HIV/AIDS spotlight.
"Years of efforts in popularizing knowledge of AIDS have helped people face the disease bravely. They now will not turn pale at the mention of the disease and try all means to evade or conceal the fact," Xin said.
(China Daily November 16, 2004)