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China: Youth face increased risk of exposure to HIV/AIDS

© UNICEF China/2005/Xinhua News Agency
With HIV/AIDS on the rise in China it has become essential that young people receive the information they need to avoid exposure to the disease.

BEIJING, China, 22 February 2006 – The incidence of AIDS is still on the rise in China, according to a joint assessment report on the country's HIV/AIDS situation released in Beijing on January 25th.

The report states that the number of Chinese newly infected with HIV/AIDS was around 70,000 in 2005, adding that most of them were infected through drug injection or unprotected sexual contact. But perhaps the most alarming trend mentioned in the report is that the disease is now beginning to spread from high-risk groups to the general populace.

The assessment was jointly released by the Ministry of Health, the Joint UN Programme on HIV/AIDS [UNAIDS] and the World Health Organization at a press conference on the release of the report, the 2005 Update on the HIV/AIDS Epidemic and Response in China.

Because HIV transmission in China is no longer contained mainly to high-risk groups, it has become imperative that young people in China have the correct information about HIV/AIDS. Giving them the tools they need during adolescence will make it easier for them to avoid HIV infection later in life. But education is only the first step in the government’s plan to make children the top priority in the fight against AIDS.

New government policies implemented

Several new national policies have been implemented – and many special events have taken place – to strengthen the response to children who have been affected by AIDS. These include:

  • Free education for 4,385 school-age children orphaned by AIDS.
  • The expansion of Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission (PMTCT) programmes from 8 pilot counties to 271 counties.
  • A new regulation to eliminate stigma and discrimination against people living with HIV and AIDS.
  • A summer camp for children orphaned and/or affected by AIDS.
  • A visit to one of China’s counties hardest hit by AIDS by representatives from UNICEF, UNAIDS and journalists from China Central Television.



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