HIV Numbers Increasing In China. What’s The Reason?

The quickest answer that may come to mind is that people are having more unprotected sex in China.  Charles Liu of believes that there are more reasons for the increase other than just greater occurrences of unprotected sexual activity. 

HIV transmission continues to rise at an alarming rate in China, with its largest rates of transmission affecting young, gay Chinese men.

Male-to-male sexual HIV transmission of all youth cases in China increased from 58.5 percent to 81.6 percent in 2015, said Wang Lu of the National Center for STD Control.

Meanwhile, the average age of HIV-positive patients has dropped over the past five years, with 15 to 24 year-old making up 35 percent of all new cases. The National Center for AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Disease Control and Prevention said nearly 2,200 new HIV cases were reported among students over the age of 15 in 2015, compared to 1,772 the year before.

In 2013, only five provinces reported more than 100 HIV-positive students, a number that increased to 10 in 2014. The People’s reported that this trend continued in 2015, but did not disclose any specific details. The alarming rise is also readily seen by the doubling of new HIV-positive patients reported in 2014 as compared to 2008 numbers.

One possible reason rates of HIV transmission is rising in China may be because testing for the illness is becoming more acceptable among marginalized communities who fear the stigma and discrimination associated with AIDS. Outreach programs are using mobile testing units and self-testing kits to reach out to China’s gay communities.

This past May, leaked information about HIV-sufferers in China were used by a phone scam that tried to collect “government subsidies for the HIV-infected.”

Out of Shanghai’s over 1,800 reported HIV cases last year, 70 percent reportedly involve gay men.

According to the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, there are an estimated 575,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in China. UNAIDS data puts that figure at 780,000. –

So the increase in the number of HIV+ cases reported in China is due to many factors.  Even though the numbers have been increasing every year, it is not just the possibility that more people are contracting HIV every year, but testing is becoming more available for newly positive as well as previously positive individuals.  The increase in younger men could be as well that the youth of China are more open to being tested as well as practicing the LGBT life.  The world is becoming more accepting of LGBTers and in such, as more people are able to live the life they desire, health issues of LGBTers are becoming more aware by China's citizens and its health care providers. 

But then again, is China's condom policies a player in the increase in HIV cases?

The HIV epidemic is concentrated among high risk groups, including men who have sex with men and sex workers, and the main mode of transmission is sex.

Chinese police cracking down on sex workers routinely look for condoms as evidence of illegal activity, hindering efforts to prevent the spread of HIV among sex workers, one of the biggest at-risk groups in the country, experts said.

China, with a population of about 1.4 billion, has a relatively low HIV prevalence rate, with around half a million reported cases of people living with HIV or AIDS by the end of 2014, according to a government report published last year.

However, the HIV epidemic is concentrated among high risk groups, including men who have sex with men and sex workers, and the main mode of transmission is sex.

Up to 92 percent of the 104,000 cases diagnosed in 2014 resulted from sexual contact, according to research commissioned by Asia Catalyst, which promotes the right to health of marginalised groups in the region.

China provides free condoms for people living with HIV and allocates funds each year to buy condoms for distribution among at-risk populations, including sex workers, it said.

At the same time, police are authorised to crack down on sex work, which is illegal in China, and use condom seizure as its main tactic, Catalyst Asia said in a report.

"When police arrest sex workers, they will search for condoms, and that will decrease sex workers’ willingness to carry and use condoms," said Tingting Shen, director of advocacy, policy, and research for Asia Catalyst.

"Among those who have been interrogated by police in the past year, condom usage rates are clearly lower," Shen said in a Skype interview from Beijing. –


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