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Still a tough battle to win fight against HIV: China Daily editorial

China Daily | Updated: 2018-11-29 21:29

Thirty years after the first World AIDS Day was marked on Dec 1, 1988, HIV remains one of the world's major infectious killers.

Worldwide more than 77 million people are infected with the virus, and more than 35 million have died of AIDS-related diseases so far, according to the United Nations.

In China, 1.25 million people — or about 9 in every 10,000 people — are living with HIV/AIDS, according to the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Although this is a low rate compared with many other countries, there are about 80,000 newly infected people in the country every year, and that number is expected to continue to rise in the future.

An increasingly open attitude toward sex, a huge migrant population and rapid development of the internet and the proliferation of dating apps have combined to make the task of fighting HIV/AIDS in China ever more arduous. There is also a growing trend for the virus to spread beyond the high-risk group of sex workers, drug users and gay men.

Adding to the challenge is the low sense of awareness about the deadly virus. Less than 40 percent of sexually active high school and college students in China have ever used a condom, which has contributed to a steady rise in infections — from less than 800 a year in 2008 to more than 3,000 a year now — among this social group, according to a survey. Infections among people aged 60 years or above, who generally don't have much knowledge about HIV/AIDS, have also risen markedly, the CDC said.

All this means the government — which is trying to raise awareness of the disease, and improve safe sex education, and provide those in need with greater access to testing, treatment and preventive drugs — is still fighting an uphill battle to meet the UN Sustainable Development Goal of bringing the AIDS epidemic under control by 2030.

So far the Chinese government has shown to the world it is not mission impossible, as proved by its success in preventing the spread of HIV through blood transfusions — with nearly zero cases of infection through this channel recorded.

As the UNAIDS chief said last year, the Chinese authorities have prevented a public health threat by acting fast and decisively, but to make further progress not only must the government continue to strengthen its efforts, each and every one of us has a role to play as well in preventing the spread of the virus.

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