Gay men in China hit hard by HIV/AIDS epidemic

Beijing, Nov 20 (IANS) China has reported nearly 110,000 HIV/AIDS cases so far this year, with gay men accounting for over 25 percent of the total, a media report said on Friday.

Wu Zunyou, head of the National Centre for AIDS/STD Control and Prevention, made the remarks on the sidelines of the ongoing 2015 National Conference on HIV/AIDS, China Daily reported.

“The situation among gay men is alarming and in some cities one out of five gay men is HIV positive,” he said, citing a national average of eight percent among the group.

In worse-hit cities such as Beijing and Harbin, more than 70 percent of the cases reported in 2015 involved gay men, he added.

Worse, young students have been hit hard in recent years by the epidemic, and 70 to 80 percent of the HIV/AIDS cases detected in 2015 among them involved gay sex, he said.

“It’s a big challenge to protect young students from HIV/AIDS,” he said.

Due to robust intervention efforts initiated in 2003, China has a low prevalence of HIV/AIDS (0.06 percent), according to Shen Jie, deputy director of the Chinese Association of STD and AIDS Prevention and Control, which hosted the conference.

“But the rapid increase of HIV cases among gay men has hardly been curbed,” she said.

Many of them are aware of the risks and preventive measures like condoms and lubricant use but simply do not practice accordingly, the deputy director added.

Wu suggested that improved treatment should be the best way to help curb the quick spread of the virus among gay men.

HIV/AIDS victims are much less likely to pass the virus to others if put on anti-retroviral therapy, he explained.