China Admits to ‘Rapidly Spreading’ HIV/AIDS Epidemic
A senior Chinese health official yesterday acknowledged that AIDS is "spreading rapidly" in China, due "not only" to drug use and unsafe sex but also to the practice of villagers selling their blood, the Los Angeles Times reports (Chu, Los Angeles Times, 8/24). The admission "break[s] a long public silence" from the Chinese government about the issue (Pan, Washington Post, 8/24). Deputy health minister Yin Dakui said that new reports of HIV infections in the first half of this year were 67% higher than they were in the same period last year. "Official" figures show that 600,000 people in China have HIV or AIDS, but international experts say that the true number could "easily be twice that," the Times reports (Los Angeles Times, 8/24). At the press conference, Yin announced the establishment of a $12 million fund to fight HIV/AIDS. He said, "Like many other countries in the world, China is also faced with a very serious epidemic of HIV/AIDS. In some particular regions, some leaders and also the general public have not fully realized the hidden dangers of a full-scale epidemic of HIV/AIDS" (Washington Post, 8/24). Yin's comments mark the first time a "top" Chinese official has spoken publicly about HIV/AIDS in China, and is "the latest in a series of small steps suggesting that China is ready to address more openly a topic that has been mostly taboo," the New York Times reports (Rosenthal, New York Times, 8/24).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.