HIV :: China’s reported AIDS/HIV cases up nearly 30%

The number of reported HIV/AIDS cases in China has grown by nearly 30 per cent this year, warning the virus seemed to be spreading from high-risk groups to the general public.

The increasing numbers reflect both the continued spread of the epidemic and the impact of better reporting, said Joel Rehnstrom, coordinator of the China office of the United Nations’ AIDS agency, UNAIDS. “There is more, and more reliable, testing being done and a greater willingness of people to come forward,” he said.

The reported number of cases had risen to 183,733, up from 144,089 at the end of last year, the China Daily said, quoting statistics announced by the Ministry of Health.

Of the reported cases, 40,667 had developed into AIDS.

Experts from the United Nations and the Ministry of Health estimate about 650,000 people in China carried HIV at the end of December, suggesting that many people were unaware they were infected, the newspaper said.

China has altered its approach to AIDS substantially since late 2003, launching an aggressive public health campaign after years of denial and cover-ups. It has initiated programs to provide anonymous testing, as well as free condoms, methadone and antiretroviral drugs. The government also has prohibited discrimination against those with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

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