The World Health Organization and the Joint United Nations HIV/AIDS campaign, or UNAIDS for short (good acronym, right?), was formally released yesterday for the first time in China. Though the report only shows cases reported by medical facilities and could thus be far higher, the dissemination is a major step in understanding and fighting AIDS in the country.
First, the facts from Shanghai Daily:
By October 31, China had reported 319,877 cases of HIV/AIDS, including 102,323 AIDS patients.
The Ministry of Health and UNAIDS estimated that there will be up to 920,000 Chinese people living with HIV by the end of this year.
About 48,000 people were infected with the virus this year in China, according to official estimates.
Between January and September last year, the ministry reported 44,839 new HIV/AIDS cases.
While the report shows that heterosexual transmission accounts for forty perfect of all cases, there is still a tendency towards focusing on traditional conceptions of how the disease is spread, specifically through migrant workers, sex workers, and homosexuals. But the fact that even stable sex partners are now contracting the disease from unprotected sex seems to beg for a reevaluation of the way the disease is viewed in society.
Among the many startling facts of the report include the fact that AIDS has become the top killer among infectious diseases since last year, especially considering that the government announced that sex had become the main cause of transmission last year. The report called for better outreach services, including more access to testing facilities: only one in three people in China with HIV have been diagnosed. Considering the poor state of sex education in China, we worry that the government’s battle against AIDS will be a hard won battle for the public’s interest until it becomes a serious epidemic.