More liberal views on sex create 'serious challenges' for prevention
Students have faced increasing risks of being infected with HIV/AIDS in recent years, so it's necessary to be smarter and more cooperative in efforts to control and prevent it in China, the head of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention said.
"Reported cases of HIV infection among young males, especially college students, have been increasing in the past few years, with transmission mostly occurring through sex between men," Gao Fu said.
Of the newly reported cases involving male patients between 15 and 29 years old in the first half of the year, more than half of transmissions were through gay contact, he said.
Of all cases reported in China between January and June, about 69 percent involved transmission through heterosexual contact, while gay contact accounted for 25.6 percent of the total.
According to the China CDC, the number of new HIV cases in people between 15 and 24 years old in China increased from about 8,300 in 2008 to nearly 17,000 in 2015. Men having sex with men accounted for more than 58 percent of all the infections in that group in 2015, the center said.
Huang Chun, deputy head of the Beijing CDC, said students have become a key target for HIV/AIDS control and prevention in Beijing over the past several years.
The number of reported cases among students in Beijing has risen since 2000, the year that the first HIV infection in a student was reported in the city, he said.
The city reported 128 new HIV cases among students between January and October this year, he said. By the end of October, there were 1,296, he said. Since the first HIV case was reported in Beijing in 1985, the number has grown to more than 25,000 by the end of October.
Jiang Chu, director of the CDC in Beijing's Haidian district, said a prominent feature of new HIV infections in Beijing is the increase among college students and senior high school students－especially among men who have sex with men.
"Many college students in Beijing have a more liberal mind than previous generations," he said. "This has created serious challenges for the prevention and control of HIV in Beijing."
Jiang said the Haidian CDC has launched some pilot projects for HIV control and prevention at universities in the district. Measures include free condoms and the installation of automatic vending machines that sell HIV test kits at low prices.
"We find many universities are now paying more attention to HIV control and prevention," he said. "Many of them are now supporting us in the installation of such machines on campus," Jiang said. "Just a few years ago they were reluctant to do so for various reasons, including denial that HIV cases were a problem."
China CDC's Gao said prevention and control of HIV/AIDS－including among young people－cannot succeed without cooperation that includes others besides health authorities, such as educators.
More sex education should be provided to students for HIV/AIDS prevention, and different departments, including the public security organs, CDCs and hospitals should improve cooperation to improve their efficiency in controlling and preventing the disease, he said.
China reported 68,000 HIV/AIDS cases between January and June this year, an increase of 8.5 percent over the same period last year, Gao said.