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HIV/AIDS survey reveals stigma, risky behavior
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A report on AIDS-related knowledge, attitudes, behavior and practices in 6 Chinese cities has revealed worrying levels of ignorance, prejudice and high-risk behavior.

The report, published by the Chinese HIV/AIDS Media Partnership (CHAMP) on September 26, detailed results of a survey carried out by the Renmin University of China with support from UNAIDS, the Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS, TB and Malaria (GBC), and public relations firm Ogilvy. More than 6,000 white-collar workers, blue-collar workers, migrant-workers and youth were interviewed in six cities.

Some of the report's most striking findings include:

Prejudice against HIV-positive people

 30% think HIV positive children should not be allowed into mainstream schools.

 65% would not share a house an HIV-positive person

 48% would not eat with an HIV-positive person.

High-risk behavior

 30% do not know how to use a condom correctly.

 Only 19% use condoms with new partners.

 11% had sex with a new partner in the past 6 months and 42% of them did not use a condom.

Ignorance about HIV/AIDS

 48% think HIV can be transmitted by mosquito bites

 18% think coughs and sneezes can pass on HIV

 83% have never sought information on HIV/AIDS.

A cause for concern

"The data are a real a cause for concern," said Dr. Bernhard Schwartländer, UNAIDS China Country Coordinator. "There are still many misconceptions and worrying contradictions between knowledge and behavior. People know that HIV can be transmitted through unprotected sex but still do not use condoms."

Michael Shiu, Director of GBC said, "I am disappointed by the level of stigma still attached to people living with HIV, particularly at work. Employers must work harder to ensure discrimination does not take place in the work environment."

The results will help guide the HIV prevention efforts of international organizations, the private sector and government. CHAMP is currently producing two public information films on the basis of the report's findings.

20,000 AIDS-related deaths in 2007

At the end last year, there were approximately 700,000 people living with HIV in China of which 85,000 had developed AIDS. There have been approximately 50,000 new infections since 2005, and 20,000 people died from AIDS-related illnesses in 2007. Sexual transmission has become the most common route for new HIV infections in China.

The full text of the report in English can be found on the UNAIDS China website, www.unaids.org.cn/en/kabp_report.

(China.org.cn by Wang Zhiyong September 27, 2008)

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