Unsafe Sex Main Mode of HIV Transmission in China, Report Says
Unsafe sex has become the primary mode of HIV transmission in China, according to a report released Monday by the Ministry of Health and the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, China Daily/Xinhuanet reports.
According to the report, of the 70,000 new cases reported in 2005, 49.8% were transmitted through sexual contact and 48.6% were transmitted through injection drug use. About 7.3% of new cases occurred among men who have sex with men, the report found. According to the World Health Organization, 80% of HIV-positive people worldwide contract the virus through sex (Shan, China Daily/Xinhuanet, 8/20). Gao Qi, a project manager at the Beijing-based China HIV/AIDS Information Network, said the report's findings indicate that sexual contact is the main mode of HIV transmission in the country for the first time. He added that the new trend in HIV transmission would make it increasingly difficult to control the spread of the virus because the primary transmission route has moved beyond IDUs (AFP/Yahoo! News, 8/20).
The government plans to initiate condom-promotion programs and other HIV prevention initiatives among commercial sex workers, who are believed to be contributing to the spread of HIV to the general public. In addition, some provinces, such as Yunnan and Henan, have made HIV tests mandatory for sex workers. According to Pan Suiming, a sociologist at Renmin University of China, studies conducted in recent years indicate that about one in 10 sexually active Chinese men have engaged in sex with a sex worker at least once (China Daily/Xinhuanet, 8/20). In addition, a second report from the Chinese CDC has found that Chinese teenagers are having sex for the first time at an earlier age and that 40% are not using condoms. The report also found that teenagers have little awareness of HIV/AIDS, Reuters reports.
According to Reuters, an estimated 650,000 people in China are living with HIV/AIDS, and efforts to fight the spread of the virus are hindered by conservative attitudes about sex and government suspicion of community-based groups and nongovernmental organizations (Reuters, 8/20).