AIDS slows in China3rd December 2007
China is seeing a slower rate of new HIV/AIDS infections, while the government says the main route of transmission is through sexual activity.
Health minister Chen Zhu said the county would see an estimated 50,000 new infections this year, compared with 70,000 in 2005, according to a joint report issued by China's cabinet and the United Nations.
This will bring the total of Chinese people counted by officials as living with HIV in China to 700,000, an estimate which was revised upwards from 650,000, Chen said.
Risk was increasing rather than diminishing among men who have sex with men, however, while 44.7% of new infections were thought likely to come from heterosexual transmission.
Men who have sex with men currently account for 12.2% of new infections, with 42% from intravenous drug use.
Chen said the AIDS epidemic was continuing to spread in China, but at a slower rate.
Intravenous drug use has been blamed by government officials for the majority of new infections in the past. However, controversial AIDS doctor Gao Yaojie has repeatedly said she believes the key to China's AIDS epidemic lies with the black market in blood transfusions, which is still seeing infected blood products transmitted through the population.
Health officials plan to put more focus in future on traditionally marginalised groups, like the gay community and drug users.
Condom use by sex workers has risen from 14.7% in 2001 to 41.4% last year nationwide, but risky behaviour was still rife among men having sex with men, around two-thirds of whom do so without using a condom, the report said.
Chen said authorities were considering a circumcision campaign for men, in the light of recent evidence that male circumcision can reduce the risk of HIV infection by up to 60%.
The World Health Organisation has already recommended it as one of the ways developing countries, especially in Africa, could use to fight the spread of AIDS.
Chen saw little likelihood of social opposition to circumcision, if it was proven to be effective in preventing the spread of HIV/AIDS.
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