New AIDS cases are spiking in China.
China’s health officials reported 104.000 new HIV/AIDS infections in China in 2014, according to China’s state-run Xinhua News Agency, citing Wang Guoqiang, vice head of the official National Health and Family Planning Commission. The number marks a 14.8% increase from a year earlier, Xinhua said, adding that sex is the main form of transmission.
Mr. Wang said that while there has been an increase, the overall infection rate remains low in China. Chinese health officials have said that nearly half a million Chinese people are living with AIDS or HIV. That compares to around 1.2 million living with HIV in the U.S., according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Global health officials have been urging China to step up its fight to prevent the spread of the disease. The World Health Organization’s China representative Bernhard Schwartländer said last year that “there is much more China needs to do” to prevent HIV infection.
Stigma is a key problem in prevention, experts say. In a December opinion piece in the state-run China Daily, Dr. Schwartländer wrote, “Perhaps most importantly, we must eliminate stigma and discrimination towards people living with HIV and at-risk populations such as men who have sex with men, sex workers and injecting drug users.”
Discrimination against AIDS victims hit the stage late last year, when local media reported that property developers hired HIV carriers to intimidate residents who refused to vacate their homes.
A lack of sexual education has historically played a role in the disease’s spread in China,though some health experts say the country has made some progress in public awareness campaigns. China is pushing to fight the spread of AIDS and increased anti-viral treatment for HIV/AIDS patients by 21% in 2014, up from a year earlier, the Xinhua report cited Mr. Wang as saying.
Infections among youth and elderly are on the rise, Mr. Wang said in the report.
Source: Laurie Burkitt for The Wall Street Journal China via The Elton John AIDS Foundation