December is World HIV AIDS Awareness Month. Of the nearly 37 million people around the world living with HIV AIDS, only a small portion live in China.
Still, it’s a major problem for those who have the virus. CGTN’s Mike Walter reports.
Between 700,000-800,000 people are living with HIV or AIDS in China. That’s 0.05 percent percent of the country’s population – a small number, but a big problem. And many cases have yet to be counted.
“Our work for HIV prevention is still very difficult,” Wu Zunyou, principal epidemiology expert at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention said.
“It is estimated that there are about 200,000 to 400,000 infected people who have not been diagnosed. So extending HIV testing to more people is a key and difficult part in carrying forward the HIV prevention.”
The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention tracks HIV/AIDS rates in China. It said there was a slight uptick in cases this year – a change it links in part to the to the ‘expansion’ of HIV testing, especially among young people.
As Xiao Dong, a manager of a youth center in Beijing, said, “If a university student wants to have an HIV/AIDS test, he just needs to pop into our youth center to have an anonymous registration. Then we will arrange a consultation and a fast test for them. Fifteen minutes will be enough for result. We will also give those people relative education according to the results.”
And when it comes to HIV/AIDS testing, there’s even an app for that. The online dating platform “Blued” offers free HIV testing to its 27 million users. It has special centers set up in Beijing and other locations in China.
Last year, the company tested 6,000 people. People who test positive are often shocked, but then they’re offered services to help.
“I didn’t know much about the disease at the time,” Xiao Ji, who has HIV, admitted. “I thought it was impossible for me to contract it. So when the doctor told me about my condition, I was devastated. My mind went blank and I thought about suicide.”
According to Ma Yue, an operations specialist with Blued, “People who are newly diagnosed are in some kind of a trance, incapable of thinking clearly. They need help to adapt to the new situation quickly. After that, we talk to them and tell them it’s no different from other diseases, and that they can still live a long life.”
Health officials in China say sexual activity remains the primary cause of HIV transmission – accounting for more than 90 percent of the country’s total cases.
Juan Perilla discusses his team’s recent breakthrough in AIDS research
CGTN’s Mike Walter spoke with Juan Perilla, principal investigator at the Perilla Laboratory at the University of Delaware about his recent breakthrough in treating AIDS.