China admits that cases of HIV/Aids have risen 45 per cent

New cases of HIV/Aids in China soared by 45 per cent last year compared with 2006, the Health Ministry in Beijing has revealed. The staggering rise was put down to changing social attitudes and an improvement in data collection.

The government had said late last year that 700,000 people were living with the virus, an increase from an earlier estimate of 650,000. The year before, China lowered its estimate to 650,000 from 840,000, despite warnings from international experts that the disease was spreading due to ignorance and because many people were too afraid or too poor to seek help.

The ministry gave few details about the large percentage rise in sexually transmitted diseases or those passed through the blood. There was also a sharp rise of 24 per cent in syphilis cases.

"It's been hard over the years to discover the number of Aids patients because of the social stigma," a ministry spokesman said. The disease is spreading fast in a country where information about Aids has long been suppressed. For many years, Chinese would say HIV/Aids was a disease that affected foreigners, and could be passed through shaking hands or sharing chopsticks.

The government has finally acknowledged that it faces a battle in resolving the rise in HIV/Aids infections. The disease is now mainly sexually transmitted; before, it had been mostly caused by intravenous drug use.

The United Nations has warned that China could have 10 million cases of HIV by 2010 unless it takes steps to educate the public and fight the epidemic.

A major advance in breaking down the stigma attached to HIV/Aids came in 2003 when Premier Wen Jiabao became China's first senior leader to publicly shake hands with Aids patients, marking a significant change in government policy on the disease. President Hu Jintao has also been photographed embracing Aids patients.

As well as the traditional routes of spreading HIV/Aids, such as prostitution and intravenous drug use, the disease in China has been spread by unsanitary, uncontrolled blood banks that travelled rural areas buying blood. About 70,000 people had been infected by contaminated transfusions.

The Health Ministry survey also showed that even among better-educated city dwellers, nearly 60 per cent were "nervous" to have public contact with HIV-positive people.

Against this kind of background, changing attitudes is an uphill battle, and the Health Ministry has come up with imaginative ways to deal with the problem. It has introduced a major TV campaign to promote condom use, with advertisements produced by the Oscar-winning Aids documentary maker, Ruby Yang. This is a significant advance in a country where talking about sex remains taboo.

China's 200 million migrant workers are among the high-risk groups. Building workers can now attend lectures on the ways HIV/Aids is spread and the importance of condom use.

"I came to know that Aids was not a disease exclusively belonging to sexually active Westerners," Chen Wei, 28, told the People's Daily after a session in the training school on a building site in Changsha in Hunan province.

In 2006, the government issued new rules. Now no organisation or individual is allowed to discriminate against Aids patients or their families, and Aids patients will be entitled to free treatment.

The Health Ministry data also showed scarlet fever and measles cases rose in 2007, though other diseases declined. There was just one death from plague last year, and none from cholera.

Suggested Topics
News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
News
i100

Other places that have held independence referendums
Arts and Entertainment
Jack Huston is the new Ben-Hur
film

It scooped up an unprecedented 11 Academy Awards when it was first remade in 1959

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
fashion

Olympic diver has made his modelling debut for Adidas

Arts and Entertainment
Blossoming love: Colin Firth as Stanley and Emma Stone as Sophie, in 'Magic in the Moonlight'
film

Actors star in Woody Allen's 'Magic in the Moonlight'

News
news

News
peopleThe Times of India said actress should treat it as a 'compliment'
Arts and Entertainment
Maxine Peake plays Hamlet at Manchester's Royal Exchange
theatreReview: Maxine Peake brings emotional ferocity to Shakespeare's starring part
News
London's New Year's Eve fireworks event is going to be ticketed this year for the first time at £10 a head
news

Revellers will have to pay to see New Year's Eve fireworks in London

News
news

Watch this commuter wage a one-man war against the Circle Line
Property
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
lifeShould we feel guilty about keeping cats inside?
Travel
travel

...and the perfect time to visit them

Sport
Jonas Gutierrez (r) competes with Yaya Toure (l)
football

Newcastle winger reveals he has testicular cancer - and is losing his trademark long hair as a result

News
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck
news

Man's attempt to avoid being impounded heavily criticised

Life and Style
tech

Try putting that one on your Christmas list
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skis as 007 for first time
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

English Teacher

£110 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Preston: The Job ? This is a new post...

Primary Teacher EYFS, KS1 and KS2

£85 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Preston: Randstad Education are urgentl...

Teacher

£85 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Preston: Rapidly developing and growing...

KS2 Teacher

£105 - £120 per day + Expenses: Randstad Education Maidstone: Randstad Educat...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week