As China works to educate the population on HIV, the number of confirmed cases nearly doubled in the past year, China's top AIDS official said on Monday in Beijing, who added that poor monitoring and other factors obscure the real scale of the epidemic.
Addressing Chinese health officials, Wang Longde, director of the State Council AIDS Prevention and Treatment Work Committee, said, according to Reuters, that the number of Chinese medically diagnosed with the virus has grown to 135,630 at the end of September. Last year, China recorded 89,067 cases.
The Chinese government estimated in 2003 that there were around 840,000 people living with HIV, and about 80,000 diagnosed with AIDS, however, health experts say that China's lack of resources and the large area of the nation makes it difficult to accurately record the actual number.
Meanwhile, Wang cited other reasons as to why the number of HIV cases may not reflect the spread of the virus.
"Some localities fear that reporting a rise in reported cases will damage their political standing and local economic development, and they’re unwilling to expand testing," Reuters reported Wang as saying.
Wang added that local officials are covering up cases of infections, fearing that acknowledging the spread will harm the economic growth of the nation.
A senior UNAIDS official also said on Monday, according to Xinhua, that in order for China to prosper, harmoniously, in a peaceful development, which China's President Hu Jintao has repeated consistently at worldwide gatherings of leaders and in meetings with top world leaders, China needs to be attentive to AIDS.
At the Hard Rock Café in China, in front of the press, Joel Rehnstrom, UNAIDS China coordinator, said that the impact of AIDS is not readily seen, however, the impact on the families and on the individuals in the community is, especially in certain regions, and it can effect the economic growth of the nation, Xinhua reported him as saying.
Rehnstrom urged China's NGOs and the community-based organizations to play a larger role in the nationwide fight against AIDS, since they're the most experienced in working with patients with the virus.
When one is diagnosed with HIV, which stands for Human Immunodeficiency Virus, it infects vital components of the immune system and leads to AIDS, Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome, which breaks down the immune system making a person more susceptible to diseases.
International Christian organizations, such as World Vision, which has an office in Hong Kong, have been working since 1991 to provide families who are affected by AIDS with health care and preventive education.
Meanwhile, the Red Cross Society of China, a humanitarian NGO, will join in the effort to educate the population on HIV through a program launched on Tuesday that will provide information on how to prevent the virus from spreading, one of the State broadcasting networks in China reported.