BEIJING Young gay men are the frontline of
China's battle to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS, with new cases
in the group increasing fourfold, one of the fastest rates of
any segment of the population.
More than 2,300 students between 15 and 24 tested positive
for HIV/AIDS in the first nine months of this year, according to
data from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention
(CCDCP) that was cited by the official Xinhua News Agency late
By the end of September, more than 654,000 people were
living with HIV/AIDS in China, Xinhua said.
As the problem worsens, Beijing has turned its HIV/AIDS
prevention efforts towards high-school and university students.
China's first-ever health center focusing on preventing the
spread of the human immunodeficiency virus, which causes
Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome, among those aged 15-24 was
opened in Beijing on Saturday, according to the official China
The proportion of cases caused by unprotected sex between
males in that age group had risen to more than 80 percent from
around 60 percent in 2008, Bao Yugang, China director at the
AIDS Healthcare Foundation, a non-profit group told China News
at the launch of the center.
World AIDS Day is celebrated on Thursday and Peng Liyuan,
China's popular First Lady and a World Heath Organization
HIV/AIDS prevention goodwill ambassador, attended an event at a
Beijing university on Tuesday to raise awareness among students.
The government has struggled to raise awareness about safe
sex and the need for regular checks among high-risk groups, with
many HIV-positive individuals going untested.
"When I was first confirmed (as HIV-positive) it wasn't
because I intentionally went to get tested, it was when I was
having treatment for an illness in hospital, the hospital just
did a test without telling me," said Xiao Ji, a 25-year-old who
identifies as gay man and who used a pseudonym.
"When the results came out (the hospital) refused to treat
me," he said.
The spread of HIV/AIDS remains a serious issue in China,
with nearly 9,000 deaths from AIDS and more than 34,000 new
cases in the first eight months of 2016, according to a CCDCP
According to UNAIDS, many men who have sex with men do not
see themselves as homosexual. Many are also married or have sex
Wu Zunyou, director of the Chinese National Centre for
AIDS/STD Control and Prevention, said: "Because of reasons
related to fear, exposure of their identity, exposure of the
fact that they're infected, and discrimination, those who have
contracted (HIV) don't wish to talk about their own identity as
a host of the disease."