Stigmatization Fueling Chinese HIV
June 20, 2003
New research suggests that due to the stigmatization of homosexual behavior in China, married men infected with HIV could be spreading the virus to their wives. "In view of the high rates of unprotected sex in such men, HIV-1 infection rates will continue to rise unless prevention measures are implemented," says Kyung-Hee Choi from the Center for AIDS Prevention Studies at the University of California-San Francisco.
Choi's survey of 481 gay men in Beijing -- the first study of its kind in China -- suggests that Chinese homosexuals over age 39 are nearly five times more likely to be HIV-positive than younger gay men. They are also five times as likely to be married. Around 3 percent of the gay men were HIV-positive. Half the men reported having had unprotected sex with men in the previous 6 months; almost a quarter said they had had unprotected sex with women during the same period.
The UN estimates that, by 2010, some 10 million of the country's billion-strong population could be infected. Currently, 70 percent of infections are from injection drug use, but sex could become the main route of transmission.
"Stigmatization of homosexual behavior fuels an epidemic, rather than creating an atmosphere in which risk can be openly discussed and protective actions such as safer-sex practices can be adopted," said Jeff Mandel from UCSF. The study, "Emerging HIV-1 Epidemic in China in Men Who Have Sex with Men," was published in the Lancet (2003;361(9375):2125-2126).
06.20.03; Helen R. Pilcher
This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.