Health bureau says ignorance to blame for rise in HIV cases
SHANGHAI recorded 1,053 new HIV carriers and 329 AIDS patients, with 49 fatalities by October this year, Shanghai Health Bureau said yesterday.
The number of new HIV carriers was 29 percent more than the same period of last year, health officials said ahead of tomorrow’s World AIDS Day. There was a 13 percent drop in the number of AIDS patients.
People from outside Shanghai accounted for 65.1 percent of this year’s new HIV cases, while Shanghainese made up 58.1 percent of new AIDS patients.
Officials said Shanghai still has a low prevalence of HIV/AIDS but numbers were on the rise.
Health officials said the increase of HIV/AIDS cases in the city was mainly because of an increase in unprotected sex, especially men having sex with men; the lack of proper knowledge of AIDS prevention and control among the public; people’s low acceptance of intervention measures and the low early detection rate of HIV infection.
People younger than 44 and males made up the majority of local HIV/ AIDS cases registered this year.
The ratio between male and female carriers grew from last year’s 4.6 males to 1 female to this year’s 7.6 to 1.
About 71.6 percent of the new HIV cases were caused by unprotected sex — the cause of 83.4 percent of local cases and 65.3 percent cases from outside Shanghai.
Intravenous drug injection was responsible for 12.3 percent of new carriers.
About 37.7 percent of HIV carriers registered this year were infected through heterosexual sex, an increase of 28.5 percent over last year. Men having sex with men was the infection cause of 33.9 percent of this year’s new HIV cases, 64.5 percent more than in 2009.
Local officials said Shanghai was at the best and key period for AIDS prevention and control, as it had a low prevalence of HIV/AIDS, but was still facing tough challenges.
“Shanghai has a large number of travelers, especially those from overseas. China stopped banning foreigners with HIV/AIDS from entering the country this year and highly risky behavior has transferred from intravenous drug use to unprotected sexual behavior, especially sex between men,” said Vice Mayor Shen Xiaoming.
“Comp a r e d with intervention to intravenous drug use, it is more difficult to do AIDS intervention on unprotected sexual behavior,” he said. It was more difficult to intervene in the case of men having sex with men as all such behavior was underground, he added.
Shen called on AIDS prevention and control facilities to cooperate with government departments, social organizations and non-governmental organizations to promote health education and AIDS prevention among this high-risk group.
“We also should further the practice on AIDS prevention during the World Expo like putting condoms at star hotels,” Shen said. “Local health authorities should promote the availability of condoms at all hotels. The service quality at methadone clinics should also be improved.”
Shanghai has a citywide HIV/AIDS network with voluntary HIV consultation and testing at hospitals, clinics treating sexually transmitted diseases and ordinary medical facilities.
Intervention where people are at high risk, such as workers at entertainment venues and migrant workers, is well covered by health education on AIDS prevention and control, the health bureau said.
HIV testing on pregnant women was also being carried out effectively to ensure timely detection and intervention to prevent mother-to-baby infection.
The bureau said the city had registered 5,992 HIV carriers and 1,213 AIDS patients, with 241 fatalities, since the first HIV case was reported in 1987 and the first AIDS patient was found in 1996.