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AIDS Spreads to General Public

Despite positive efforts, China's HIV/AIDS epidemic has worsened and is now spreading dangerously into the general population. That's according to officials at the Ministry of Health and the UN AIDS office in China.

This is in a report made public on Tuesday, ahead of the 17th World AIDS Day.

The report is an updated version of a comprehensive study for last year's World AIDS Day. It does little to paint a brighter picture of the epidemic in China. At the press release, health officials said national HIV prevalence remains low, but of high prevalence exist.

HIV prevalence is particularly high among sub-groups in some areas of Yunnan, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and Henan. The HIV case report indicates that the HIV/AIDS epidemic is spreading into the general population.

There is emerging evidence that the proportion of sexually transmitted HIV infections is increasing. The report says that the epidemic may continue to increase rapidly over the coming years.

There is hope that the epidemic may start to stabilize, but this is dependent to a large extent on the coverage and effectiveness of prevention programs.

Vice Minister of Health Wang Longde said, "The past year has seen considerable achievements in the fight against HIV/AIDS in China in terms of budget input and supportive national framework. "

Central government investment in HIV/AIDS is double last year's budget, amounting to around 100 million US dollars. And efforts to strengthen the effectiveness of international cooperation continue.

The report says that by the end of 2003, the number of HIV cases was estimated at 840,000. But health experts warn that if urgent action is not taken, in six years, 10 million people in China will be HIV positive.

(CCTV December 1, 2004)

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