HIV/AIDS cases in Shaanxi increase
XI'AN: The number of HIV/AIDS cases in Shaanxi Province has seen a sharp increase, putting officials and experts in the Northwest inland province on high alert.
Sixty-nine HIV positives were reported between January and September, one and half times the number reported last year. Senior provincial officials warned the province is seriously threatened by the fatal disease.
"Shaanxi has witnessed AIDS case reports in all of its 10 prefectures, showing a severe situation in AIDS prevention and control," said Fan Bing, deputy director of the Shaanxi Provincial Health Bureau.
Statistics from local departments showed that Shaanxi has a total of 263 people with the HIV virus, of whom 97 patients have full blown AIDS while 45 had died of the disease by the end of September, 2004.
Among the 263 HIV-positive cases, 145 are local residents while the rest are part of the floating population. The infected people live mainly in the provincial capital of Xi'an and Shangluo in southern Shaanxi, statistics show.
"Though AIDS cases in the whole province are at a relatively low level at present, there are signs of growth," the deputy public health director said.
Since the first AIDS patient was reported in 1992, a total of 40 HIV-positive cases have been found in Xi'an. Among them, 12 developed AIDS and six have died, Fan said.
At present, there are about 840,000 HIV-positives in China. Some 240,000 people have died of the disease, bringing the total number of HIV positives to about 1 million.
"Compared with other provinces and regions, Shaanxi still has relatively few HIV-positive cases. However, the number of HIV positives has increased rapidly in the last three years, making up 78 per cent of the total number found in the past 14 years," Fan said.
Fan said the local government has paid a lot of attention to the severe situation and takes measures to further enhance prevention efforts by spreading knowledge of AIDS to the public and keep a close eye on the high-risk population.
Faced with the growing AIDS threat, experts plan to develop regulations on AIDS prevention and control as soon as possible.
"There is no special law on AIDS prevention and control in China at present, and the relevant laws and regulations not only lag behind, but are also not perfect, failing to meet prevention and control needs," said Chen Youmo, a local prevention and control expert.
Meanwhile, AIDS in the country is at a key stage, threatening to spread from high-risk groups to the general population, said Chen.