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Economist Examines State of HIV/AIDS Epidemic in China

August 1, 2005

The Economist in its July 28 issue examined the state of China's HIV/AIDS epidemic, which is not yet a national "catastrophe" but "has the potential to become one." The World Health Organization estimates that China has an HIV prevalence of between 0.05% and 0.08%, but the number of HIV cases in the country is increasing and an estimated 85% of people living with the virus are unaware of their status. Hundreds of thousands of people in China in the early and mid-1990s contracted HIV through unsafe blood collection procedures. Although the country outlawed blood sales in 1998 and reduced the number of blood collection organizations operating in the country, about 350 such groups currently operate and remain motivated by profit, according to the Economist. In addition, HIV in China increasingly is being transmitted among injection drug users who share needles, especially in southern provinces bordering Laos, Vietnam and Myanmar, which also is known as Burma. In order for China to effectively fight HIV/AIDS, it must fight the stigma surrounding the disease, provide a better variety of antiretroviral drugs and encourage condom use, the Economist says. The Chinese government has shown a "clear concern" about HIV/AIDS but seems "reluctant" to mobilize the Chinese Communist Party, the women's federation and the youth league to fight the epidemic, according to the Economist (Economist, 7/28).

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