Survey Finds Few in China Aware of HIV/AIDS Transmission, Prevention Methods
Yesterday at the XIV International AIDS Conference in Barcelona, Spain, researchers presented a survey that found the "vast majority" of Chinese citizens are ignorant about the cause and transmission methods of HIV/AIDS, USA Today reports (Sternberg, USA Today, 7/9). Conducted by China's State Family Planning Commission in collaboration with the CDC, the survey interviewed 7,000 people in low-, middle-, and high-income areas (Reuters, 7/9). The survey found that overall, 17% of respondents had never heard of AIDS, while 25% of farmers, China's most common occupation, had never heard of the disease. Among those who recognized AIDS, 90% knew HIV could be transmitted from person to person, but 85% were unaware that vertical transmission was possible. Other findings include:
- 81% of respondents did not know needle sharing could transmit HIV;
- 52% of those surveyed did not know blood transfusions could spread HIV;
- More than 75% did not know condoms could prevent HIV transmission. In addition, only 8% said they used condoms as a contraception method during their last sexual encounter (Brown, Washington Post, 7/9).
HIV's Impact on Rural Indian Women
In other news presented at the conference, the number of HIV-positive people in India has increased from 400,000 in 1990 to 4 million currently, according to Salim Habayeb, a former public health specialist for the World Bank. Most cases of HIV occur in urban areas among men who live in rural areas but travel to cities to work. As a result, 70% of the HIV-positive people in India are from rural areas. The report also found that 90% of HIV-positive women in India are married, monogamous and have had sex only with their husband. Given that these women have "scarcely left their villages," Habayeb said that although it is politically incorrect to "use the word 'victim'" in describing an HIV-positive person, "this is the perfect scenario of a victim." Even though Indian generic drug manufacturers Cipla and Ranbaxy provide the cheapest antiretroviral treatments in the world, only a few thousand people in India are receiving the treatment (Washington Post, 7/9).