HIV infections jumped 8-fold over the past few years in parts of China among gay and bisexual men, according to new data from southern China.
Published in Nature, the study found that the proportion of HIV-positive women of child-bearing age doubled in the past 10 years and researchers warned the disease was moving from high-risk communities into the wider population.
There were an estimated 700,000 HIV/AIDS cases in China as of October 2007, up 8 percent compared to 2006, it said. Some 38 percent of cases were attributed to heterosexual contact, more than triple the 11 percent in 2005.
“HIV/AIDS is spreading beyond the high risk populations, largely due to increased transmission through sexual contact. It implies that HIV/AIDS is not only a disease that affects high risk population, but the general population alike,” professor Zhang Linqi, director of the AIDS Research Center in Beijing, wrote in an email reply to questions from Reuters.
On the other hand, concerted governmental efforts to provide free antiretroviral “cocktails” to blood donor HIV/AIDS victims in the 1990s have proved effective, according to another report in Nature. The study of treated victims found that:
[…]the mortality rate has decreased from 27.3 deaths per 100 patients per year in 2001 to 4.6 deaths per 100 patients per year in 2006. Also, the percentage of patients receiving ‘cocktail’ drugs has increased from 5% per year in 2002 to 70.5% in 2006. Importantly, patients not receiving ‘cocktail’ drugs have the greatest mortality rate.
A recent survey indicated that HIV/AIDS awareness is still quite low.