News / Asia

    Health Advocates Urge Better Education to Curb China’s AIDS Infections

    FILE - A Chinese volunteer hands free condom and AIDS prevention brochures during an HIV/AIDS awareness campaign in Beijing.FILE - A Chinese volunteer hands free condom and AIDS prevention brochures during an HIV/AIDS awareness campaign in Beijing.
    x
    FILE - A Chinese volunteer hands free condom and AIDS prevention brochures during an HIV/AIDS awareness campaign in Beijing.
    FILE - A Chinese volunteer hands free condom and AIDS prevention brochures during an HIV/AIDS awareness campaign in Beijing.
    Shannon Van Sant

    China has a relatively low prevalence of HIV positive citizens, with fewer than point-one (0.1) percent of adults infected. But the number of AIDS cases continues to rise, and health advocates blame a lack of education and prevention. 

    The number of people with HIV in China is fairly low given the size of the population.  According to official statistics, 800,000 Chinese are living with HIV, but health officials are concerned about a rise in HIV transmission, particularly among the young.
     
    According to Chinese state media, more than 70,000 new cases of HIV were identified in 2013, and infection rates are rising among teenagers and young adults.
     
    “What we are have seen over the past few years is a quite significant shift in where infections are happening," explains Dr. Bernhard Schwartlander, the World Health Organization's (WHO) representative in China. "Where as initially the majority of infections happened through blood transfusion and blood donations situations and injecting drug use.  Today the vast majority of cases is transmitted through sexual transmission, both heterosexual and homosexual, that means sex between men.”
     
    Chinese authorities estimate nearly 90 percent of new infections occur through sexual contact.

    Economic development, urbanization

    Dr. Schwartlander attributes the rise in sexual transmission to economic development and urbanization.  Hundreds of millions of China’s migrant workers are in the process of moving from the countryside to the cities.  It’s the largest mass migration of human beings in history.  
     
    “China is going through a very traumatic social and economic change, which brings very good things, and also brings very difficult and challenging things.  It brings risks in health, and also increasing opportunities to engage in risky behavior, and also transmitting HIV,” said Schwartlander.

    As young people move away from the countryside in search of more lucrative work, the transition can be an abrupt cultural change. The doctor said that many are not fully prepared for the shift in lifestyle.
     
    “That is a situation we have seen in many cities, particularly bigger cities, where a new sub culture is emerging with a new freedom.  People can come together, people can get together, but also it offers opportunities for engaging in sexual activity, and unfortunately the prevention education hasn’t kept pace many places with these realities.”
     
    Lack of knowledge

    While China’s economic development has brought people more opportunities to congregate and socialize, many in the country still know little about HIV.  Schwartlander says only half of HIV carriers in the gay community know they have the virus.  Many wait to seek treatment until the disease has progressed.  
     
    Xiaogang Wei organizes an AIDS Walk every year in Beijing to raise money for prevention of HIV and AIDS.  He said people with HIV face a lot of stigma in China, which prevents them from talking openly about the disease and learning how to prevent and seek treatment.  “Of course there are a lot of problems.  There are still people getting fired because they have HIV," he noted. "People get rejected at school, because they have HIV.”
     
    Stigma and prejudice

    Dr. Schwartlander said that even at China’s hospitals, HIV patients face prejudice.  Many in China fear the disease is contagious and can be spread through sharing food or drink, so doctors can be reluctant to treat HIV carriers for fear of scaring off other patients and losing revenue for the hospital.  
     
    “There is a fairly high level of discrimination and stigma, including in the health sector.  That is particularly important because people feel they are stigmatized, discriminated against at the places where they should get help, they don’t go there,” he explained.
     
    State news media reported that Chinese leaders are renewing their focus on the disease, in part through increased state funding for treatment, but also by reaching out to local health groups.
     
    Civil society organizations hope this will give them more power to help China’ fight against the disease.   But Maya Wong, of Human Rights Watch, is skeptical.   “The government on the one hand has been quick to deal with the AIDS crisis through providing access to medical care, however there are still obstacles.  On the other hand it continues to obstruct efforts and harass activists who try to have an honest discussion on how to control the spread of AIDS,” she said.
     
    One Chinese activist, Ye Haiyan, who lobbies for the rights of sex workers, was denied permission by Beijing to travel to this week’s International AIDS Conference in Melbourne, Australia.
     
    China’s government may decide it needs activists’ help in fighting the disease.  The WHO has said that high rates of HIV amongst gay men threatens progress in the battle against AIDS worldwide, arguing that although these men are at high risk of becoming infected, they are also least likely to seek prevention and treatment services. 

    You May Like

    Syrian Torture Victim Recounts Horrors

    'You make them think you have surrendered' says Jalal Nofal, a doctor who was jailed and survived repeated interrogations in Syria

    Mandela’s Millions Paid to Heirs, But Who Gets His Country Home?

    Saga around $3 million estate of country's first democratic president is far from over as Winnie Mandela’s fight for home overshadows payouts

    Guess Which Beach is 'Best in the US'?

    Hawaii’s Hanauma Bay tops an annual "top 10" list compiled by a coastal scientist, also known as Doctor Beach

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora