BEIJING, Aug. 20 -- Unsafe sex has for the first time
overtaken drug abuse through injections as the main cause of new HIV infections
in the country, according to the latest annual report released by the Ministry
of Health (MOH).
The finding suggests the virus is spreading from
high-risk groups to the general public.
Of the 70,000 new HIV infections recorded in 2005,
49.8 percent were through sexual contact, said a report released jointly by the
MOH and the China Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Figures for 2006
are not available.
Injected drug use ranked second, accounting for 48.6
percent of the total. Nevertheless, drug abuse was the dominant transmission
route for the 650,000 people living with HIV, according to official figures.
"It's the first time since 1989, when the first HIV
infection was detected, for sex to top the transmission list nationwide," said
Gao Qi, a project manager with Beijing-based China HIV/AIDS Information Network.
The new trend indicates further spread of the
deadly virus and a tougher war against the epidemic, Gao said.
To address the challenge, the government has taken a
slew of measures highlighting HIV intervention and prevention among sex workers,
deemed the "bridge population" linking those at most HIV risk and the general
Surveys in recent decades show one out of 10 sexually
active men have been involved with prostitution at least once, said Pan Suiming,
a leading sociologist at Renmin University of China.
"As it's hard to spot clients who buy sex,
intervention has to begin with sex workers," said Tan Xiaodong, professor at the
School of Public Health of Wuhan University.
Inspired by the 100 percent condom-use campaign
targeting sex workers in Thailand, the Chinese government has initiated a
Some provinces like Yunnan and Henan have also
instituted mandatory HIV tests for sex workers.
Globally, 80 percent of the total 39.5 million
HIV-positive people contracted the disease through sex, according to the World
"The new trend in China is in line with the
international situation," Tan said.
In addition, there has been a continuous spike of HIV
prevalence among Chinese men who have sex with men.
About 7.3 percent of new infections through sex are
among gay men, said the 2005 report, making the long-ignored group a focus of
(Source: China Daily)