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China: Nipping AIDS in the bud (11 Aug 2005)


A report released by the UN Theme Group on HIV/AIDS in China in 2002 made an analogy between AIDS in China and a ‘ Titanic peril ’ . It claimed that if one only could see the tip of the iceberg and not the huge crisis below, China could be on the verge of a catastrophe. According to the Ministry of Health, as of end-2003, there were 840,000 HIV carriers in China, and the figure was growing by 40% annually. The United Nations predicted that if no countermeasures are taken against the deadly disease, the number of HIV patients in China could soar to 10 million by 2010, or less than five years from now.In China, the proportion of AIDS cases caused by sex contacts has grown substantially. The situation is especially alarming among people engaging in risky behaviours.In early 2004, the Ministry of Health released the results of its first ever surveys of male homosexuals in China, putting the figure to around 10 million. Dr Zhang Beichuan, an HIV/AIDS expert based in Qingdao University, said that HIV infection among male homosexuals in China was on the rise. Their private life made them especially vulnerable. Moreover, discrimination has undercut the homosexuals ’ willingness to maintain a stable relationship. Some of the homosexuals chose to get marry with a woman to gain recognition. As Zhang observed, in the western world, the spread of HIV in homosexuals was restricted within their circle. In China, however, the virus passed to outsiders. In many cases, the homosexual carriers transmitted the virus to their wives.Prostitution is a common sight in Chinese cities. Young countrymen accounted for a majority of the 130 million mobile populations in China. At the same time, there was a large influx of teenage girls from rural areas to big cities, in search of better living conditions. Academics and international organisations believed the mobile crowd might not have enough knowledge to protect themselves against sexually transmitted diseases. In 2004, the Ministry of Education announced a new curriculum, introducing AIDS-prevention information to primary and secondary school students. Nevertheless, it would take very long to put the policy into practise in every school around the country. Moreover, most teachers have never been trained to teach the subject. Traditionally it was a taboo to openly talk about sex. The way in which the government make a breakthrough in this area will be the bridgeheads for fighting AIDS.

Global Aid for AIDS
Publish Date: 
Thursday, August 11, 2005
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