Beijing sees jump in HIV/AIDS cases

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BEIJING, Nov 21 (Reuters) China's capital has registered nearly 973 new HIV/AIDS cases so far this year, a jump of more than 50 per cent from 2006, state media reported today.

''Incidents of the disease are still on the rise in Beijing and it is spreading from the high-risk groups of people to the general population,'' Xinhua news agency quoted Jin Dapeng, head of the Beijing Municipal Health Bureau, as saying.

Needle sharing and sex were the main transmission routes in the 2008 Olympics host city.

Preventing the spread of the disease among migrants from rural areas -- who often have no fixed address and little access to health care -- was a new challenge for the city, Jin said.

''Beijing has yet to work out a specific policy on AIDS prevention among migrants. It will be a priority in our future work,'' he said.

The United Nations estimates that the number of HIV/AIDS sufferers in China is about 650,000.

Although the prevalence is low, AIDS prevention groups say the situation among some pockets of the population and in some regions is serious.

The country has become increasingly open about AIDS in recent years, after initially denying the spread of the disease. But in some areas the epidemic is still stigmatised and civil society groups engaged in AIDS prevention work are periodically harassed.

REUTERS RJ RN1818

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