China Admits Failure In Safe Sex Message
Posted by pozlife on August 20, 2007
by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff
Posted: August 20, 2007 – 11:00 am ET
(Beijing) The Chinese government acknowledged Monday for the first time that unsafe sex has surpassed illegal drug use as the main cause of HIV infections.
Until now the Ministry of Health has maintained that injecting illegal drugs was the main reason for a growing number of cases of HIV/AIDS.
The MOH on Monday said that in 2005, the most recent year that it has full statistics for, there were were 70,000 new cases of HIV. Almost fifty-percent were through sexual contact.
Injected drug use ranked second, accounting for 48.6 percent the ministry said.
“It’s the first time since 1989 when the first HIV infection was detected for sex to top the transmission list nationwide,” Gao Qi, a project manager with Beijing-based China HIV/AIDS Information Network told the English language China Daily.
The statistics show that the virus is now entering the general population, despite government programs aimed at educating people about the virus. They also suggest that two groups are helping fuel the transfer to the general public – prostitution and closeted men who have sex with men but who are married.
Prostitution, which is rampant in China and hard to control, has been linked to illegal drug use. Many prostitutes are intravenous drug users who contract HIV and then pass the virus to clients through unsafe sex.
A large proportion of China’s deeply closeted gay community is in opposite-sex relationships.
Until recently the government has failed to target either group for safe sex education.
In April the government for the first time held a free HIV/AIDS testing clinic for gay men in Beijing. Only about 200 gay men turned out.
In June the government began enlisting gay bars in Beijing to educate people about safe sex. (story) The bars, clubs, health centers and massage parlors are handing out free condoms and literature to customers.
The government said in announcing the Beijing program that the number of men who have sex with men contracting HIV has steadily grown over the past three years. The official infection rate was 1.5 percent of the population in 2004 but has now grown to almost 7 percent.
Western health authorities say the official rate is lower than the real numbers. China consistently has said it has fewer people living with HIV/AIDS than projections from the United Nations indicate.
The Joint UN Program on HIV/AIDS, or UNAIDS, has warned that up to 10 million people in China could be infected by 2010 without more aggressive prevention measures.
A report issued in March by China’s Ministry of Health showed that only about 30 percent of the country’s college students have a full understanding of HIV/AIDS.
Some areas of the country continue to suppress safe-sex education.
Earlier this month Henan province, in central China, barred AIDS activists from holding a meeting to discuss ways of educating the public about the virus. (story)
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