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City's AIDS cases increase fivefold since 2005

THE number of known AIDS victims among people holding Shanghai residency has increased more than fivefold since 2005, according to a report released yesterday.

The Shanghai Health Bureau's annual findings on communicable diseases also found that AIDS is on the rise among Chinese migrants and expatriates who live in the city.

Earlier studies showed that the chief culprit for the surge in AIDS cases was unprotected sex.

Last year, 38 people died of the disease in Shanghai.

The number of registered AIDS patients among city residents rose from 17 in 2005 to 89 last year, yesterday's report showed. The incidence rate increased from 0.13 for every 100,000 city residents in 2005 to last year's 0.65.

Shanghai recorded 43 migrants suffering from AIDS last year compared with 13 in 2005.

Local health officials acknowledge the actual number of AIDS victims in the city could be much higher than the reported cases.

Yesterday's report did not deal with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, or how people contracted the disease. But in a study released late last year, the Health Bureau said unprotected sex was the top transmission channel for HIV/AIDS in the city. It did not break that figure down into heterosexual and homosexual contacts.

Unprotected sex was the transmission pathway for 77.2 percent of the new cases for local residents and 52.9 percent for non-Shanghainese, the first time that sexual practices surpassed intravenous drug use among non-locals as the chief source of the disease.

Last year's report showed that the number of new HIV/AIDS cases in the first 10 months of 2008 was 26.5 percent higher than in the same period in 2007. Male victims outnumbered females by 4.5 times.

Song Guofan, a Health Bureau public relations official, said controlling the spread of HIV/AIDS by promoting safe sex is a tough job.

"Though health authorities have carried out sex education for workers serving in entertainment venues like KTVs and small hair salons and promoted condoms in such places, people's awareness on HIV prevention is still low," he said.

The Health Bureau also said there were 38,039 cases of infectious disease last year, an incidence rate of 204.7 for every 100,000 people, 2.9 percent higher than in 2007.

The top five diseases last year were syphilis, gonorrhea, tuberculosis, viral hepatitis and dysentery, comprising 93.4 percent of the total cases, a ranking that was similar to past years.


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