MSM Remain Most At-Risk Group for HIV in Beijing, Official Says
Beijing's community of men who have sex with men are most at risk of contracting HIV, He Xiong, deputy director of the Beijing Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said Friday, China Daily reports. According to He, 5% of MSM in the city are HIV-positive.
He said that 43% of all newly reported HIV/AIDS cases are attributed to unprotected sex. China Daily reports that research during the past three years has shown that less than 50% of MSM use condoms, which He said creates challenges in promoting better health awareness. Xiao Dong, chief of the Chaoyang Chinese AIDS Volunteer Group, said MSM "must voluntarily practice safe sex and take regular tests."
He said that the efforts of groups such as Xiao's are crucial to reducing the health risks MSM in Beijing face, adding that groups often work closely with MSM and provide no-cost condoms, confidential counseling and testing services. Between January and July, more than one million people in Beijing received an HIV test, He said.
Despite the risk of HIV/AIDS that the MSM community still faces, He on Friday said that the incidence of the disease among drug users has declined. Based on figures for the first seven months of 2008, 1.5% of the city's drug users are HIV-positive, compared with 5% in 2001, He said. Although He did not give comparable figures from 2001, he said 0.5% of unlicensed commercial sex workers are living with HIV/AIDS in Beijing.
According to He, 563 new HIV/AIDS cases were reported in Beijing during the first seven months of 2008, 118 of which were among local people and the remainder among migrant workers. In addition, new cases in each of Beijing's 18 districts and counties totaled 1,190 in 2007, up slightly from 2006.
Xiao said that although the development of a comprehensive HIV/AIDS monitoring network -- comprising 69 clinics and 128 laboratories -- has helped keep the spread of the disease in check, high-risk groups should become more knowledgeable about risks. According to He, prevention and treatment clinics throughout Beijing have created intervention teams to work with high-risk populations to help them with medical treatments, as well as other issues (Xie, China Daily, 9/9).