HIV in China: cases still rising among high-risk groups

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It has been 40 years since the first cases of AIDS were reported in 1981, but the disease is still prevalent around the world. Statistics show that by the end of 2020 more than 1.05 million people in China had been infected with HIV – the virus that can lead to AIDS, and the proportion of infections in certain age groups had increased significantly.

The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention recently released four studies on the subject of AIDS. One study, titled “China’s HIV/AIDS Epidemiology Research Progress”, pointed out that by the end of 2020, of the 1.05 million people who had been infected with HIV, a total of 351,000 deaths had been reported. In China, the number of newly diagnosed HIV infections continues to rise due to reasons such as delayed diagnosis, especially among high-risk groups.

The studies also showed that heterosexual and homosexual transmission rates increased from 48.3 percent and 9.1 percent in 2009 to 74.2 percent and 23.3 percent in 2020, respectively, while HIV transmission among injecting drug users dropped significantly from 25.2 percent in 2009 to less than 2.5 percent in 2020. Homosexual men are the group with the highest risk of HIV infection.

Among the HIV infections reported in China each year, the proportion of patients aged 50 and above has risen significantly, from 22 percent in 2011 to 44 percent in 2020.

Among the newly reported HIV infection cases in 2020, in some of the Chinese provinces where AIDS cases were first reported in the country, patients aged 50 and above accounted for the highest proportion of patients. The data suggests that HIV infection rates among middle-aged and elderly people have increased in recent years, and it has gradually attracted the attention of relevant government departments.

Just recently, the China Youth AIDS Prevention and Education Project Office and the Beijing Qing Ai Education Foundation released a report, which revealed that young students in China are currently at a high risk of HIV infection.

Statistics from the report show that nearly 3,000 infections among students aged 15-24 years were reported nationwide in 2020, with sexual transmission accounting for 98.6 percent of the cases. Among the newly reported cases, male homosexual transmission accounted for 81.7 percent, and heterosexual transmission accounted for 16.9 percent.

Margaret Chan, honorary director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO), recently stressed that about 3,000 new HIV cases among young students aged 15-24 are reported every year, and most of them are infected through unprotected sex. Young people have become one of the most important groups in China’s AIDS prevention and control work, she said.