Number Of HIV/AIDS Cases In China Increases

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The number of estimatedHIV/AIDS cases in China hasincreased to 700,000, according to a report scheduled to be officially releasedon Saturday by UNAIDS and a committee under China's State Council,the AP/ reports (Sanderson, AP/, 11/29). Thereport was based on work carried out by UNAIDS, the Chinese government and the World Health Organization, AFP/Yahoo! News reports (AFP/Yahoo! News,11/29).

According to the report, there were an estimated 50,000 new HIV cases in 2007,the majority of which occurred among injection drug users and commercial sexworkers. "China'sHIV epidemic remains one of low prevalence overall, but with pockets of highinfection among specific subpopulations," the report said (AP/,11/29).


The report found that 44.7% of the new cases occurred through heterosexual sexand that 42% occurred from injection drug use. It also found that 12.2% ofcases occurred among men who have sex with men, while 1.1% of cases werethrough mother-to-child transmission. China'sMinistry of Health said there were 223,501 confirmed cases ofHIV/AIDS in Chinalast month, compared with 183,733 reported at the same time last year (AFP/Yahoo!News, 11/29).

Heterosexual sex is "now the main route for the spread of AIDS,"Health Minister Chen Zhu said, adding that more focus still is needed onmarginalized groups, including MSM and IDUs. Chen said that becauseheterosexual sex is the main transmission route in the country, a routine malecircumcision campaign should not be ruled out. "This is a technicalquestion" that Chinese HIV/AIDS "experts will evaluate," Chensaid, adding that even "before the AIDS era, some children in Chinawere already being circumcised." According to Chen, "As long as thereis evidence" that male circumcision is "effective," he does notthink "it would be an issue" (Blanchard, Reuters, 11/29).

Some independent HIV/AIDS advocates said the estimated number of HIV/AIDS casesis highly underestimated. The "actual figures far exceed these officialestimates," AIDS advocate Hu Jia said, adding that provincial authoritiestend to underreport actual figures to the central government and that third partieshave been prohibited from carrying out independent investigations. Hu said theofficial statistics do not include cases of HIV/AIDS that were caused by unsafeblood transfusions, which have contributed to the spread of HIV in the country.Gao Yaojie, an HIV/AIDS advocate and retired physician who in March visited accept an award for her work in fighting HIV/AIDS, said the practice of selling blood continues despite thegovernment's attempts to eradicate it (AFP/Yahoo! News, 11/29).However, some health experts have said the estimates likely are accurate andreflect a change in the way data are collected (AP/, 11/29).

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