China's state-run media say the number of reported H.I.V./AIDS cases in the country has grown by nearly 30-percent this year.

China Daily quoted the Ministry of Health Wednesday as saying that the reported number of cases has risen to around 184,000, compared to about 144,000 the year before.

Of the cases this year, more than 40,000 had developed into AIDS.

The ministry attributed many of the new cases to better reporting, but warned that the virus seemed to be spreading from high-risk groups to the general public.

The ministry's comments echo a U.N. report published on Tuesday, which also said that China's H.I.V. infection rate is spreading among those people considered low-risk.

The China Daily said drug abuse acconted for 37 percent of the cases reported this year, while unsafe sexual contact was blamed for 28 percent. Officials quoted by the China Daily noted that before 2002, only 10 percent of all infections were caused by sexual contact.

The report also also said that experts at the United Nations and the Ministry of Health estimate about 650,000 people in China were carrying the H.I.V. virus by the end of 2005, suggesting that many people were unaware they were infected.

Some information for this report was provided by Reuters and AP