BEIJING China on Wednesday revised down an estimate of the number of people living in the country with HIV/AIDS, but international health agencies warned that with 70,000 new infections last year, there was no room for complacency.
They also warned that the virus was no longer restricted to drug users and those who sold blood, but had begun to spread quickly among the general population.
“China’s HIV infections have been linked to high-risk behavior. But now, sex work is moving it toward the general population,” WHO China representative Henk Bekedam told reporters at a conference announcing the new figures.
By the end of last year, China had an estimated 650,000 people living with AIDS/HIV, 75,000 of whom had full-blown AIDS, according to the study.
The World Health Organization, China’s Ministry of Health and the United Nations’ AIDS agency jointly produced the study, an update on an earlier assessment of the AIDS epidemic in China in 2003.
Bekedam said that the new estimated infections, roughly 200 a day, showed the situation in China was “more serious than we thought.”
Most of the new cases were injecting drug users and sex workers and their clients, but there was a growing number of infected pregnant mothers and spouses of sex workers’ clients, the report said.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition of January 27, 2006.