China To Develop HIV Prevention Campaign Aimed at MSM
China's Ministry of Health on Wednesday announced that the country this year will develop an HIV prevention policy to curb the spread of the virus among men who have sex with men, China Daily reports (Juan, China Daily, 2/21).
According to the health ministry's 2008 plan for disease prevention and control, the policy will include detailed prevention methods for MSM. The methods include expanding condom use, prevention training, consultations, HIV testing and treatment for other sexually transmitted infections. A report conducted by the health ministry, the World Health Organization and UNAIDS found that 11.1% of HIV/AIDS cases recorded by the end of 2007 occurred among MSM. According to health department estimates, between five million and 10 million MSM live in China. Recent research indicates that the population's HIV/AIDS prevalence is between 2.5% and 6.5%, Xinhuanet reports (Xinhuanet, 2/20). Wu Zunyou, director of the National Center for AIDS/STD Control and Prevention, said that MSM in 2005 accounted for 0.4% of all new HIV cases, compared with 3.3% last year (China Daily, 2/21).
The government also plans to expand methadone replacement therapy programs for drug users, as well as to bolster no-cost services -- such as counseling, testing, antiretroviral drug access and education for AIDS orphans -- according to the health ministry. Clinics that provide replacement therapy have been established in 503 communities in 23 provinces, regions and municipalities, according to China's Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Xinhuanet, 2/20). According to Reuters, about 700,000 people were living with HIV/AIDS in China in 2007, compared with earlier estimates of 650,000 (Buckley, Reuters, 2/20).
Wang Weizhen, deputy director of the health ministry's HIV/AIDS prevention department, said, "By learning more about [MSM], we can better protect them against" HIV/AIDS. She added, "Studies are under way in several cities to collect information on [MSM], such as their distribution and behavior patterns" (China Daily, 2/21).
In related news, NPR's "Day to Day" on Tuesday reported on HIV/AIDS in the Yi village in rural southwestern China. Some young migrant workers who leave the village for jobs in large cities contract HIV through sex work or drug use and spread the virus when they return home, NPR reports (Trindle, "Day to Day," NPR, 2/19). Audio of the segment is available online.