Sex, drugs, and HIV/AIDS in China

Sex, drugs, and HIV/AIDS in China

Changes in sexual behaviour lead to spread of HIV in China

This report from The Lancet focuses on the spread of HIV in China. Findings show that heterosexual sex has overtaken intravenous drug use as the main route of HIV transmission, with many new cases infected by marriage partners. Factors include the country’s growing sex industry as well as an increase in personal freedoms and promiscuity, the spread of the internet, and growing curiosity about overseas norms of behaviour. However, estimates suggest that HIV prevalence in China is still relatively low at less than one in 1000 in a population of 1.3 billion. The rate of increase in infections slowed from 70,000 new infections in 2005 to 50,000 in 2007.

The report concludes that China has made considerable progress in controlling the AIDS epidemic. This is partly due to the government’s efforts to be more open about the problem, improve public awareness and offer free testing and drugs. However, according to many non-governmental organisations, officials in some local areas are still under-estimating HIV prevalence. Despite investment in public education, knowledge of sexually transmitted diseases remains low. The report stresses that if China is to quell the new wave of infections in the general population, it must face up to changing patterns of sexual behaviour.

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