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Sixty Percent of Chinese HIV Carriers Are Young People
About 60 percent of Chinese HIV carriers are young people aged 15 and 29, Zhang Weiqing, Minister of the State Population and Family Planning Commission, announced Friday,

The statistic has forced the government to redouble its efforts to protect the sexual and reproductive health of adolescents, Zhang told an event here to mark the 14th World Population Day.

Earlier statistics released by the Ministry of Health showed the country's HIV carriers have topped one million, with the rate and death toll rising, as well as the number who contract the virus through sexual intercourse.

In 2002, a total 9,824 HIV cases were reported, up 19.5 percent year on year, some 1,045 people were confirmed as having AIDS and 363 people died of the disease.

"To cope with the severe situation, we must attach special attention to the education of sex and reproductive health of adolescents, help them better understand HIV and stay away from the disease, drugs and pornography," Zhang said.

Zhang said the government had prioritized the protection of adolescent sexual and reproductive health on the country's middle-and-long-term management plan on the spread of AIDS.

China's first Population and Family Planning Law also stipulates that schools should carry out reproductive health courses to help youngsters cope with their developing maturity.

By June, about 50 percent of higher-grade primary school students, 85 percent of junior high school students and 80 percent of senior high school students had sexual or reproductive health classes.

Eighty-three percent of schools in the country's 30,000 urban communities and 76 percent in China's 50,000 rural villages had conducted similar classes.

About two thirds of the country's 200 million adolescents, or 130 million, had undergone the courses.

There are one billion adolescents aged between 15 and 24 around the world.

To mark the July 11, 1987, the date the world's population hit five billion, the United Nations Development Program set the first World Population Day on July 11, 1990, and gave a special theme for each year since 1996.

World Population Day this year highlights the right of adolescents to sexual and reproductive health.

(Xinhua News Agency July 11, 2003)

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