China sees AIDS cases surge

A 14 percent increase in HIV victims means almost one million new diagnoses in the world’s most populous nation.

Workers manufacture medical supplies at a factory in Guangzhou, in this still image taken from Reuters TV footage
Though it was once a death sentence, people diagnosed with HIV can lead long lives thanks to medical advances [Samantha Vadas/Reuters]

The number of people living with HIV/AIDS in China surged 14 percent over the past year with most cases transmitted through sex rather than blood transfusions, state media reported on Saturday.

More than 820,000 people had AIDS or were HIV-positive at the end of June, up by 100,000 from the year previous,  state news agency Xinhua said, citing national health officials at an HIV/AIDS conference.

HIV, an acronym for human immunodeficiency virus, affects the immune system, attacking important cells that help the body fight off infections, disease, and other viruses. 

AIDS, or the acquired immune deficiency syndrome, occurs when HIV goes untreated and greatly impacts the immune system, typically causing weight loss and other symptoms. 

More than 40,000 new HIV/AIDS cases were reported in the second quarter alone in China, with 93.1 percent having contracted the virus through sex.

China has experienced scandals related to HIV transfusion through blood transfusions in the past, the number of HIV infections by blood transfusions has “essentially been reduced to zero”, according to Xinhua.

In the 1990s, rural parts of China – particularly the central province of Henan – endured the country’s most debilitating AIDS epidemic.

It stemmed from a tainted government-backed blood donation programme and infected tens of thousands of people, including entire villages.

In 2015, state media reported the case of a five-year-old girl who contracted HIV through a blood transfusion during an operation for congenital heart disease.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies