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AIDS and China's Youth

On July 23, Mao Qunan, a spokesman for the Ministry of Health, told a seminar at Tsinghua University that college students are the latest addition to the AIDS high-risk group. With the incidence of unprotected sex on the rise, is there a genuine cause for worry for China's undergraduates?

According to Zhang Beichuan, an AIDS expert and director of the Sexual Health Center at the Qingdao University School of Medicine, the first case of a college student diagnosed with AIDS was reported in 1995.

With changing views and ideas of sex among China's young, AIDS poses a potential threat to sexually active college students.

According to Vice Health Minister Wang Longde, China reported 135,630 cases of HIV infections by the end of September, 31,143 of which developed into AIDS cases. 

Wang estimates that up to 23 percent of the total number of AIDS cases are as a result of unprotected sex.

According to global figures, 70 percent of HIV/AIDS infections result from unprotected sex. More than half of those infected between 14 and 25 years old.

According to a survey published in China Youth Daily, 22 percent to 30 percent of college students have had sexual experiences.

A 2002 survey of 825 college students from Hunan Province conducted by the AIDS laboratory at Xiangya School of Medicine, Central South University, shows that more than 50 percent of students approve of sex before marriage, over 30 percent would have or have had several sex partners, 16.9 percent approve of prostitution and about 10 percent have no issue with homosexuality.

In an interview with China Youth Daily on November 27, Li Bian, editor in chief of the official website of China Sexology Association (CSA), said that education and awareness is the only key to AIDS-prevention, and not using means to try to curb the natural sexual urges of young people.

He believed that sex is a reasonable need of a person, and suppressing this need can harm one's mental health.

Zhu Qi, professor of the Research Institute of Health Education of China, disagreed by saying that AIDS-prevention programs should emphasize traditional values and morality, and pre-marital sex discouraged.

According to a China Youth Daily report on November 28, a global Internet survey covering 41 countries and over 317,000 people showed that 98 percent of those surveyed think that formal sex education should be given to those aged 16 or even younger.

“We need a law to promote sexual health education,” Zhang Junfang, website master of China Sexology Association, said, adding that sexual health education isn't just for the young, but for everyone.

(China.org.cn by Wang Ke December 1, 2005)

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