China faces multiple challenges in its fight against HIV/AIDS, including low testing coverage and high infection rates among men who have sex with men, said a World Health Organization (WHO) official.
Bernhard Schwartlander, the World Health Organization (WHO) Representative in China, detailed the state of HIV/AIDS in the country in an article posted on the agency's official website. The article coincides with the 2014 International AIDS Conference being held in Melbourne.
Schwartlander said testing coverage in China remains low, particularly at the village and township levels. Even among people who do get tested, there is often no follow-up after the initial screening.
He also pointed out the high infection rate among men who have sex with men (MSM). "The HIV infection rates amongst MSM in China tripled from 2 percent in 2007 to about 7 percent today, and are as high as 20 percent in some cities."
"Transmission in the heterosexual population has also remained stubbornly constant," Schwartlander said.
However, China's progress in the battle against HIV/AIDS has been impressive by anyone's standards, he added.
"Great strides have been made in helping intravenous drug users, a key population at risk. China has gone from just eight methadone clinics a decade ago to about 700 today," the WHO Representative said.
He also noted that the number of Chinese HIV/AIDS patients receiving anti-retroviral therapy has more than doubled in the last three years, and HIV prevalence among the general population remains low.
China, with a population of over 1.3 billion, has an estimated 780,000 people living with HIV/AIDS.