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AIDS now third most deadly disease in China
Updated: 2006-02-14 08:40

AIDS overtook hepatitis B to become China's third-deadliest infectious disease last year, the Ministry of Health reported yesterday.

Tuberculosis was the country's No. 1 infectious killer in 2005, followed by rabies, the ministry said.

A total of 4.42 million cases of infectious diseases were reported and 13,263 people died last year, an increase of 12.7 percent and 81.92 percent from 2004 respectively.

Tuberculosis, hepatitis B, dysentery, gonorrhea and syphilis were the top five most common infectious diseases, accounting for 85.66 percent of the total cases, the ministry said.

Tuberculosis, rabies, AIDS, hepatitis B and tetanus in newborns were the top five killers - 89.4 percent of the total.

The Ministry of Health has issued a plan to ensure that newborns and other vulnerable groups stay away from hepatitis B in the next five years.

According to the 2006-2010 national hepatitis B prevention and control plan, the positive rate of all Chinese will be reduced to less than 7 percent and that of children under five years old one percent by 2010.

Vaccinating children is highlighted by the plan as a major strategy to fight hepatitis B. It is expected that the vaccination rate of newborns will reach beyond 90 percent by 2010. About 95 percent of children born after 2002 who have not been injected will be immunized.

China has not officially released statistics on the numbers of hepatitis B patients and virus carriers, but according to estimates by experts cited by the health ministry, there are 20 million chronic hepatitis B patients.

Liu Shijin, member of the China Association of Integrative Medicine, estimated that China has 130 million hepatitis B virus carriers, meaning one out of 10 people is infected.

The plan will set up sound systems to monitor hepatitis B prevalence, the vaccination rate of newborns and infections in high-risk groups.

It also requires all medical institutions to eliminate spread of the virus by blood transmission, which together with sexual intercourse and mother-to-child transmission are the three major channels to transmit the virus.

In January alone, 493 people died of 27 infectious diseases in the mainland, with tuberculosis, rabies and hepatitis B as the top killers.

The health ministry admitted that China's hepatitis B prevention and control efforts "fall far short."

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