China Might Be Concealing Lower Estimates of HIV Infections for Fear of Political Fallout, Expert Says

China might be concealing new estimates for the number of HIV-positive people in the country because they are lower than previously publicized figures and could erode the country's credibility, a U.S. expert on China said on Tuesday at a briefing in Beijing, Agence France-Presse reports. This could explain why China's official figure of HIV-positive people has been 840,000 for the past couple of years, Bates Gill, a researcher at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C., said. "What I've heard is that with further modeling and more fine-tuning of their approaches, they now internally have come to the conclusion that the number may be actually lower than 840,000," Gill said, but the government fears the political impact of making the new figure public, he added. The figure is based on modeling techniques and the result of a cooperative effort between China, the World Health Organization and UNAIDS. An unnamed Chinese health ministry official in charge of monitoring the spread of HIV said that a new official figure will be released by the end of this month (Agence France-Presse, 11/1). China last week echoed the UNAIDS prediction that the country could have 10 million HIV-positive people by 2010 without swift and effective action (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 10/25).

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