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December 1, 2012

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Home » Metro » Health and Science

Media blitz called as HIV/AIDS cases soar

NEW HIV cases through unprotected sex have soared more than 90 percent this year while prevalence of the deadly virus among male homosexuals also shot up rapidly, prompting the city government to plan a media blitz.

"The spread of HIV/AIDS in Shanghai has reached a critical point from high-risk groups to the general population," Vice Mayor Shen Xiaoming said yesterday on the eve of the World AIDS Day. "Without taking effective measures, the city's HIV/AIDS cases will proliferate at a faster speed and spread among ordinary people. Anti-discrimination measures are the key to HIV prevention and control."

By November 20, Shanghai had registered 1,479 new HIV carriers, 727 new AIDS patients and 134 AIDS-related deaths this year, bringing the registered number so far in the city to 9,126 HIV carriers, 2,590 AIDS patients and 429 AIDS-related death respectively. The city's first HIV case was reported in 1987 and the first AIDS patient was identified in 1996.

The number of new HIV carriers this year was 14.3 percent more than the same period of last year, compared with a 11.5 percent rise in 2011.

Migrants made up for the majority of new HIV cases this year.

Young and middle-aged men were the main carriers of the virus. Men accounted for about 90 percent of new HIV/AIDS cases this year, while those between 25 and 54-years-old made up for 73.8 percent of the new cases.

"Sex is still the main carrier of the disease in the city," Wang Panshi, vice director of Shanghai Health Bureau, said.

Wang said unprotected sex was the sole reason for 90.7 percent of the newly reported HIV cases this year, up 8.2 percentage points year on year.

"We have also seen a significant rise of HIV transmissions among male homosexuals, which, for the first time, accounted for 60 percent of the new cases who were infected from unprotected sex," Wang said. The figure is a year-on-year rise of 9 percentage points.

At the same time, transmission through intravenous drug injection dropped by 2 percentage points this year.

Officials are pushing for a publicity campaign to eliminate discrimination against HIV carriers and AIDS patients, control the spread of the disease, and respect the rights of HIV-positive people for health care, education, employment and even privacy.

Cases of new AIDS patients grew by 42.8 percent over last year with the majority of patients being those with local registered residency permits.

AIDS-related cases also doubled from last year and most of the deaths were due to complications like severe pneumonia and meningitis.

"The rise of AIDS-related deaths was because of late detection," Wang said. "Most new cases in Shanghai were found in hospitals and at free HIV consultation spots. Many patients went to hospitals only after they had developed significant symptoms."

Shanghai said it will increase HIV/AIDS awareness among the high-risk population like prostitutes, drug addicts, male patients with sexually transmitted disease, homosexuals, students, migrant workers, as well as among pregnant women.

The government will set up more free HIV testing spots across the city.

By October this year, Shanghai had screened over 220,000 pregnant women and detected 18 positive cases for the HIV virus, which was three times the figure since last year.

All the 18 pregnant women received mother-to-infant intervention therapy and no babies were born with the infection.


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