Basketball player Yao Ming (R), center witht the Houston Rockets, presents T-shirts as gift for children, who were orphaned due to AIDS suffered by their parents, in Shanghai in this July 8, 2007 photo. A report indicated that HIV/AIDS is spreading to the younger people. [Xinhua]
BEIJING - The Chinese capital officially registered 973 new HIV/AIDS cases in the first 10 months of this year, up 53.71 percent from a year earlier, a health official said on Wednesday.
"Incidents of the disease are still on the rise in Beijing and it is spreading from the high-risk groups of people to the general population," Jin Dapeng, head of the Beijing Municipal Health Bureau, told a working conference on AIDS prevention.
No specific figures were immediately available about which groups of people were involved in the 973 new cases and how many for each group.
Bureau statistics revealed that as of the end of October, Beijing had registered 4,663 HIV/AIDS cases since 1985. These included 171 foreigners, 964 locals and 3,524 from other places.
Needle sharing and sex remained the main transmission routes, Jin said.
"The task remains very tough for Beijing. AIDS prevention among the migrant population is a new challenge." He noted that more than 70 percent of HIV/AIDS sufferers were migrants, a group which accounted for about a quarter of the city's population.
"Beijing has yet to work out a specific policy on AIDS prevention among migrants. It will be a priority in our future work."
Also, Jin said, members of high-risk groups refuse to take HIV/AIDS tests out of fear of discrimination.
To improve the monitoring of AIDS in the city, health authorities would keep close watch over high-risk groups, such as people working at the entertainment venues, beauty salons and massage parlors where the sex trade could take place, Jin said.
"They'll be obliged to be tested for HIV/AIDS infection," he said.
Apart from that, local education authorities would order all of the city's middle schools and universities to offer courses on AIDS prevention and provide relevant literature at their libraries, as part of the effort to disseminate knowledge about AIDS prevention among students, he added.
The number of HIV/AIDS sufferers in China was estimated to be 650,000, according to the last major survey in 2005 by the Ministry of Health, Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS and World Health Organization (WHO). The actual number was thought to be much higher.
China had 183,733 officially reported HIV/AIDS cases last year.
AIDS Spreading to Younger People
SHANGHAI: HIV is spreading to younger people and those with advanced educational backgrounds, figures released by the Shanghai Public Health Clinical Center showed Wednesday.
The center has so far received 77 HIV patients this year, and about 70 percent of them have good educational backgrounds.
Most of them are between the ages of 20 and 40. Fourteen of the patients were born after 1980.
"The new HIV carriers this year are much younger and have better educational backgrounds than in the past," Sun Hongqing, a doctor at the center, said.
It has been reported that the most common way to spread HIV in this city is through sexual intercourse.
Sexually transmitted diseases of all types are becoming increasingly common in Shanghai.
In March alone, the city reported 935 cases of syphilis, accounting for more than a quarter of the new cases of serious infectious diseases in the city.
Sun attributed the spread of HIV to a lack of knowledge about sex and sexually transmitted diseases.
"They just don't know much about sexual health, such as how to use a condom, and then many of them forget all the basics. Some of them are just happy to take the risk," Sun said.
Shanghai reported its first HIV infection in 1987. By the end of last year, 2,313 infections had been reported. One hundred people have died of the disease.
The Shanghai Public Health Clinical Center receives funding from the Shanghai municipal government.
The center was designed as an integrated facility encompassing clinical therapeutics, teaching and research.
The center aims to improve the city's public health system and clinical treatment of infectious disease and to create a platform for cooperation on public health and research, in order to upgrade Shanghai's research capabilities.
"We are planning to introduce more psychological interventions for HIV patients during our therapy sessions," Chen Liang, a professor at the center, said.
"We need to help them accept the reality of their illness and rebuild their self confidence to go back to society."
Next Saturday is the 20th annual World AIDS Day.