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HIV Cases Among China's Students Increased Nearly 25 Percent

Apr 01, 2013 03:27 PM EDT

Chinese health officials report that the number of students infected with HIV has increased by 24.5 percent year-on-year in 2012.

A total of 1,700 students infected were reported infected with HIV last year, a report from China's official Xinhua News Agency stated.

Xu Xiaoyang, a scholar with the China Sexology Association,said that the rise in HIV infection "reflects a serious problem. We are not taking education on prevention seriously," she said in an interview with the Global Times. "Students should be the target group for more comprehensive and thorough education since they are more open-minded."

Condom use is apparently not widespread in China. A 2010 survey of students in Guangdong province showed that only 34 percent use condoms, according to website Shanghaiist

Yu Jingjin, director of the bureau of disease control and prevention under the National Health and Family Planning Commission, said that 64.8 percent of the students contracted HIV through sex with people of the same gender.

Most of the 1,700 HIV infections were reported in male college students, according to Wang Ning, deputy director of the National Center for AIDS/STD Control and Prevention

Wang said more people being tested for HIV is one of the reasons for the increase in cases in 2012. The 100 million HIV tests taken nationwide in 2012 was significantly higher than the 60 million tests taken in 2010, Xinhua reported.

"Many more gay people are coming out and doing the test nowadays due to a more open public opinion," Wang said.

The county of 1.3 billion people reportedly has more than 7,000 students who are HIV carriers or AIDS patients.

Between January and October of 2012, 17,740 deaths were associated with HIV or AIDS, the news agency reported.

Officials cite poor awareness of safe sex practices as a reason for the rise of HIV in youth.

"Many students in junior high school have had sexual experience, let alone those in senior high school and college. But schools and parents are not willing to tell these young people how to protect themselves," said Ye Dawei, deputy secretary-general of the China Red Ribbon Foundation, a non-government organization working to prevent HIV and support people affected by the virus.. "Also, young people are facing more temptation in this information age. I have heard of some college students offering sex through the Internet for money to buy things such as an iPhone."

The findings piggyback on reports dating from 2011 that also reported the rate of HIV in China's students and older men was "soaring." 

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