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China says reported AIDS/HIV cases up nearly 30 pct

Written by: Staff
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BEIJING, Nov 22 (Reuters) The number of reported HIV/AIDS cases in China has grown by nearly 30 per cent this year, state media said today, warning the virus seemed to be spreading from high-risk groups to the general public.

The reported number of cases had risen to 183,733, up from 144,089 at the end of last year, the China Daily said, quoting statistics announced by the Ministry of Health.

Of the reported cases, 40,667 had developed into AIDS.

''Health officials attributed many of the new cases to better reporting of existing cases, though they also warned that the virus seemed to be spreading from high-risk groups to the general public,'' the newspaper said.

Experts from the United Nations and the Ministry of Health estimate about 650,000 people in China carried HIV at the end of December, suggesting that many people were unaware they were infected, the newspaper said.

Hao Yang, deputy director of the Ministry of Health's Disease Control Bureau, was quoted as saying drug abuse accounted for 37 per cent of the cases reported in the first 10 months of the year, while unsafe sexual contact had caused 28 per cent.

''Before 2002, only 10 per cent of all infections were caused by sexual contact,'' he was quoted as saying.

The United Nations said in a report yesterday that China's drug-fuelled epidemic had reached ''alarming proportions''.

''With HIV spreading gradually from most-at-risk populations to the general population, the number of HIV infections in women is growing too,'' it said of China.

HIV/AIDS became a major problem for China in the 1980s and 1990s when hundreds of thousands of impoverished farmers became infected through botched blood-selling schemes.

REUTERS SSC VV0925

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