First Lady pushes for awareness of HIV

By Leng Shumei Source:Global Times Published: 2016/11/30 0:18:39

Ignorance of transmission still widespread

China's First Lady Peng Liyuan continues to support HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention efforts as the World AIDS Day 2016 draws near, with experts cautioning that ignorance about the disease is still widespread. 

China has basically blocked HIV transmission through blood transfusions and effectively controlled the risk from drug injections and mother-to-child transmission for HIV infection, Wang Guoqiang, deputy head of the National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC) said at a recent advocacy event for the World AIDS Day 2016 at Beihang University in Beijing, according to an NHFPC online statement on Tuesday.

Peng, who is World Health Organization goodwill ambassador for tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS, attended the event, and called on society to work together to improve the level of HIV/AIDS prevention, the statement said.

Peng has been actively supporting and taking part in school tours to advocate HIV/AIDS prevention, including a promotional event at Zhejiang University on September 5 during the G20 leaders meeting in Hangzhou. She was joined by the first ladies of other G20 member states.

"The Chinese government has invested a lot into preventing and controlling HIV since the first AIDS case in China was reported in 1985," Li Dun, the law and policy working committee dean of the Chinese Association of AIDS and STD Prevention and Control, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

Jing Jun, a sociology professor at the College of Humanities and Social Sciences of Tsinghua University, said that strong governmental movements have led to a remarkable decline in the number of people becoming HIV-positive through illegal blood selling, the sex trade and drug abuse.

The percentage of HIV-positive sex workers is under 1 percent, while the mortality rate of AIDS patients in China had declined from 17.9 percent in 2005 to 6.6 percent in 2013, the Beijing Times reported in August 2014, citing Sun Jiangping, a deputy dean of the National Center for AIDS and STD Control and Prevention at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Sun noted that, during the same period, the percentage of people who received antiviral therapies for their disease had climbed from 25 percent to 87 percent together with a four-fold increase in government investment in preventing and controlling HIV/AIDS.  

Gay males at risk

Jing, however, pointed out that the number of HIV-positive homosexual people, a high-risk group, has continued to increase in the past two decades from approximately 5 percent to 25 percent of all HIV carriers and AIDS patients.

The latest data from the CDC reveals that the yearly growth rate of HIV diagnoses in people aged between 15 and 24 had reached 35 percent in the last five years, with male homosexuals the most at-risk group, The Beijing News reported on Tuesday.

"HIV transmission in homosexuals is very hard to deal with as the government lacks legal or administrative support to interfere with people's sex lives," Jing said.

Jing said the main obstacle is the low rate of condom use and detection after high-risk sexual behaviors. 

Careless about safe sex

Wu Shuai, an employee of Tongdao Mutual Aid Center in Deyang, Southwest China's Sichuan Province, pointed out that, besides young people, heterosexual people aged over 50 are also at high risk of contracting HIV as they lack knowledge of how it is transmitted.

"As a matter of fact, people may become less careful about safe sex as they age," Wu said.

Lack of knowledge about HIV is also the main cause of fear of AIDS, Wu said, adding that another cause is those who engage in high-risk sexual behaviors.

Six out of every 10,000 people in China suffer from HIV/AIDS. Over 570,000 people in China were found to be HIV positive by the end of 2015, and an estimated 32 percent of those infected remain undiscovered, according to Liang Xiaofeng, deputy director of the CDC at a forum in October.

Li said that the main reason for infected people to hide their disease was concern over privacy protection. Improving the situation lies in effective publicity of government information and an accountability mechanism for civil servants.

Wu also stressed the need to improve medical treatments for HIV-positive people, especially in small places where there is a lack of medical services for them.



blog comments powered by Disqus