Elementary school students in Donghai county in Jiangsu province crafted red ribbons as part of an HIV/AIDS prevention campaign. File photo by ZHANG ZHENGYOU / FOR CHINA DAILY
HIV infection rates among students between the ages of 15 and 24 in China have been brought under control, especially over the past three years, a top public health expert said.
The number of newly reported HIV cases among this demographic in China has remained stable in China over the past three years.
The figure was 3,077 last year, compared with 3,053 in 2016 and 3,236 in 2015, Wu Zunyou, chief epidemiologist at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, told China Daily on Tuesday.
In comparison, the number of newly reported HIV cases for this age group was 1,607 in 2013, 2,552 in 2014 and up another 27 percent in 2015, said Wu, former head of the National Center for AIDS/STD Control and Prevention. "Since 2015, joint efforts by all of society… have had an effect."
Health and education authorities across China have intensified efforts and cooperation since 2015 in fighting the rise of HIV infections among students, especially college students.
Measures taken include enhancing information sharing, improving sex education in schools and providing free HIV consultation and testing services for college and vocational school students, he said.
For the overall population, most HIV infections in China occur during heterosexual interaction. But for the 15 to 24 age group, sex between men is the primary means of transmission, Wu said.
Although HIV rates for that age group are cause for concern, they still account for a small portion of the total HIV infections in the country, he said.
Of the entire population, the number of new HIV cases reported in China has been increasing in recent years.
The number of people living with HIV in China exceeded 820,000 by the end of June, according to the Chinese Association of STD and AIDS Prevention and Control.
China reported 40,104 new HIV cases in the second quarter this year, according to the association.
Wider HIV testing is a key factor in the increased number of newly diagnosed people living with HIV in China, Wu said.
"Various policies and measures intended for control and prevention of HIV among students must be carried out in a concrete way."