Education and testing may rein in HIV rates

Updated: Aug 2, 2019 China Daily Print
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A staff member from the Disease Control and Prevention Center in Haigang district, Qinhuangdao city, Hebei province, helps schoolchildren to fix red ribbons in November to promote AIDS awareness. [Photo/Cao Jianxiong]

Number of infected to likely keep rising, but prevalence expected to remain low

China reported some 145,000 new cases of HIV/AIDS last year, with about 2 percent among those aged 15 to 24, a health official said.

"There has been a slight uptick in HIV/AIDS among male youths in recent years, but the total number of newly diagnosed teenagers and young adults hovers around 3,000 each year and makes up only a small proportion of all cases," Liu Zhongfu, an official with the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said at a news conference in Beijing on July 31.

Liu denied recent news that there had been a spike in the number of HIV infections among Chinese teenagers.

He said China has recorded over 100,000 new cases of HIV/AIDS a year for five consecutive years.

"Proper sex education and readily accessible testing services are two pillars to slow the spread of the disease," he said.

"The health and education authorities have jointly staged trial education campaigns on campuses and established a reporting system to tackle the issue," Liu said.

There are about 1.25 million people living with HIV in China, with the infection rate lower than 0.1 percent at the end of last year, according to the National Health Commission.

A health promotion plan released by the State Council in July said the number of people infected with HIV is likely to keep rising, but the prevalence will remain low.

The country aims to contain the infection rate to under 0.15 percent by 2022 and 0.2 percent by 2030, according to the plan.

Wu Zunyou, chief epidemiological expert at the CDC, said during a news conference in November that the increasing number of cases are largely due to more tests being conducted each year, revealing previously unknown cases.

Lei Zhenglong, deputy director of the National Health Commission's disease control and prevention department, said that in addition to awareness campaigns, efforts will also be devoted to maintaining full coverage of HIV testing for blood donations and implementing measures to prevent transmission of the virus between mothers and babies.

At the same news conference, Xiao Ning, an official with the China CDC, also drew attention to parasitic diseases, another major category of infectious conditions that impact the health of Chinese.

"There have been about 3,000 cases of imported malaria in recent years, and different types of snail fever that are indigenous to Africa or South America have entered the country," Xiao said.

China is working toward eliminating malaria by 2022 and effectively containing snail fever infections in the same time frame, with the goal of wiping out the disease by 2030, according to the nationwide plan.

Xiao said the goals are attainable thanks to the upgrading of the country's disease monitoring and reporting system.

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