China Says Unsafe Sex is Chief Cause of HIV Spread

( [email protected] ) Aug 20, 2007 02:49 PM EDT

China's state media reported, Monday, that unsafe sex is now the primary cause of new HIV infections that is sweeping China, suggesting AIDs is spreading from high-risk groups to the general public.

"It's the first time since 1989, when the first HIV infection was detected, for sex to top the transmission list nationwide," Gao Qi, of the China HIV/AIDS Information Network, said to state-owned China Daily.

Of 70,000 new HIV infections recorded in 2005, nearly half contracted the virus through sexual contact, said the news agency, which cited an earlier report released by the China Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the Ministry of Health.

The joint-report did not give the actual number of infections for previous years, or for 2006, but said the disease had spread through transmission by drug-use.

Gao also pointed out to China Daily that the new shift would make containing the spread of HIV/AIDs more difficult, because the chief method of transmission has gone beyond the drug-abusing population.

China now has an estimated 650,000 people living with HIV or AIDs.

Besides promoting increased condom-usage and education amongst prostitutes, the government is concentrating prevention measures for gay men, who made up 7.3 per cent of the recent infections – according to China Daily.

40 per cent of teenagers engaging in sex at an earlier age in China were found to have little AIDs education and did not use protection for the first time, according to a separate survey conducted by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in China.

"They know little about HIV/AIDS, let alone preventative measures," the China Daily quoted An Jiaao, of the center’s National Institute for Health Education.

Amity Foundation, a domestic non-government agency with an 11-year experience with AIDs/HIV prevention in China, and reported that lack of public education especially in rural-sectors remains a critical problem hampering current efforts to contain the disease.

Reports of a massive HIV/AIDS outbreak began in the 1990s, when thousands of poor farmers mostly in the central Chinese province of Henan became infected through blood-selling schemes that had gone awry.