Monday’s Beijing Evening News quoted a member of the Ministry of Health’s AIDS Clinical Expert Working Group as saying that the number of people with HIV/AIDS in China is rapidly increasing and numbers of new infections and deaths are more than they have ever been, as are numbers of those most at risk from infection.
According to Zhao Min, also chief physician at the People’s Liberation Army No.302 Hospital, the population of people with HIV/AIDS is going up 30 percent annually and among a wider population.
It has been reported in all 31 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities, but is mainly concentrated in coastal areas and big cities, and those infected are distributed across all social strata.
In some rural areas, she said, the epidemic is spreading dramatically.
Zhao said there had also been a rise in three ways of communicating the virus: through drug users sharing injecting equipment, sexual transmission, which is becoming the major route, and from mother to baby.
Monitoring has found infections among sex workers to be rising and the number of injecting drug users thought to be sharing equipment remains high.
Migrant workers are particularly vulnerable and hard to target with prevention and control measures. Inadequate awareness, low condom use and social discrimination put them at an increased risk of infection.
Imbalanced regional development and poverty were identified by Zhao as root causes behind high rates of sexual transmission among rural women, along with risks from blood transfusion and other medical treatments in some areas.
Zhao Min predicted that the number of people with HIV/AIDS in China would exceed 10 million by 2010 if no effective measures are taken right now, posing a great threat to the nation’s health, economic development and social stability.
(China.org.cn by Zhang Tingting, December 2, 2005)