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HIV in China Rising
  Heilongjiang sees HIV cases rising
By Li Fangchao (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-10-07 06:57
HARBIN: Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province is reaching a critical stage in the fight against HIV/AIDS, as the HIV infection rate is increasing rapidly, sources with the Heilongjiang Provincial Health Department said.
By September this year, 261 HIV/AIDS cases have been detected in the province.
Since the province found its first HIV positive case in 1993, 64 people have shown symptoms and another 36 have died of the disease, the department revealed.
"HIV infection is increasing fast in the province," said Jin Lianhong, director of the department.
Twelve out of the 13 regions of the province have reported HIV positive cases, he said.
Male youths account for the majority of the cases, but there is an increasing number of female youths getting affected.
The percentage of female HIV/AIDS carriers has risen to 33.8 per cent from 19.6 per cent in 1999.
"We are coming to a dangerous peak time when the disease begins to break out in bulk," Jin said.
"And the disease has begun to spread from high-risk groups to the masses, which is a very bad trend," he said.
Sexual transmission is becoming the top culprit in spreading the disease, according to the official.
And though the number being infected with HIV-AIDS in Heilongjiang Province is among the lowest in the country, there may be many undetected cases.
"Limited by financial reasons and a lack of manpower, we were not able to make a comprehensive and thorough survey," he said.
"That means the number of cases may vary from the stated number," Jin added cautiously.
Zhuang Tao, director of the Venereal Disease and AIDS Prevention and Control Association of China, said that another lurking danger that may add to the increase of HIV/AIDS cases in Heilongjiang is that it borders on Russia, which has seen a rapid increase of HIV/AIDS cases in recent years. "Risks of being infected may rise as the trade volume between the two countries has been soaring in the port cities of Heilongjiang Province," Zhuang said.
Faced with this urgent situation, Jin said that they are setting up a local administration to combat the disease.
"Through our co-operation with the nationwide AIDS combating association, we hope to establish a local distribution centre to spread necessary information and help for those who are in need," Jin said.
Jin concluded by saying that the province's rural regions and migrant workers are the primary targets for future efforts.
(China Daily 10/07/2005 page2)
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