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Reuters New Media
Chinese HIV Carriers Up 37 Percent

November 1, 2000
BEIJING (Reuters) - China had 20,711 HIV carriers at the end of September, up 37 percent when compared to a year earlier, the official Xinhua news agency reported on Wednesday.

Xinhua, quoting the health ministry, said the majority of people who had tested positive to HIV, the virus that causes Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, or AIDS web , were in the 20-29 age group.

Intravenous drug users accounted for 72 percent of the cases, while there were 5.2 male carriers for every female who had tested positive, it said. The figures were at odds with estimates made by Chinese experts in state media who have said there were around 500,000 HIV positive people in the country.

The United Nations has predicted that HIV, if left unchecked, will have infected around 10 million Chinese by 2010.

Health officials have been discussing measures to curb the spread of HIV and are considering distributing condoms and giving sex education to prostitutes and their customers.

They are also considering laws to punish people who intentionally infect others with HIV.

China has set up 600 prevention and treatment centres that concentrate on "entertainment girls", patients with sexually transmitted disease and drug users, Xinhua said.

Conservative attitudes towards sex in China are proving resilient.

A Shenzhen company's campaign to hand out free condoms at Beijing universities and colleges on World AIDS Day last year met with frowns of disapproval from students.

China also banned its first national condom advertisement last year, because promoting sex products conflicted with China's social conventions and morals, state media said.



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