Some HIV/AIDS Advocates Express Doubt Over Revised Number of HIV-Positive People in China, New York Times Reports
Some HIV/AIDS advocates are expressing doubt over a new estimate of the number of HIV-positive people in China that was released in a report on Wednesday by China's Ministry of Health, the World Health Organization and UNAIDS, the New York Times reports (Yardley, New York Times, 1/26). According to the report, 2003 estimates said that the number of HIV-positive people in China was 840,000, but current estimates say that 650,000 HIV-positive people live in the country and 75,000 of those people have developed AIDS. The report also estimates that in 2005 there were 70,000 new cases of HIV and 25,000 AIDS-related deaths. The country's current HIV/AIDS prevalence is approximately 0.05%, the report says (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 1/25). According to the Times, some experts and AIDS workers estimated that the number of HIV-positive people in China is at least 1.5 million and said the new official estimate might not be reliable. Chung To -- chair of the Hong Kong-based Chi Heng Foundation, which provides services to AIDS orphans in China -- said many HIV-positive people in the country hide their status in order to avoid stigma, adding, "To me it is hard to believe [the report is] revising downward. It is certainly not what I see as a front-line, grassroots AIDS worker." Odilon Couzin, an HIV/AIDS advocate, questioned how officials were able to survey groups that normally are hesitant to reveal their status, such as commercial sex workers, injection drug users and men who have sex with men. Ray Yip -- Beijing representative of CDC, which provided assistance with the study -- said that among other differences between this estimate and past ones, the new estimate is based on data taken from a larger sampling across China. "It's a more robust and more complete number," Yip said, adding, "But by all means, it is an estimate" (New York Times, 1/26).
In related news, Chinese Vice Health Minister Wang Longde on Wednesday announced that China's State Council will be adopting guidelines aimed at regulating HIV/AIDS prevention and control, Xinhuanet reports. Wang said, "The regulation specifies the responsibilities of governments at various levels and the rights and obligations of people living with HIV as well as AIDS patients." According to Xinhuanet, the council also will establish guidelines for the country's HIV/AIDS prevention and control system and testing system. According to Wang, the government has approved the guidelines and will provide details soon (Xinhuanet, 1/25).