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Rate of HIV/AIDS
cases jumps 70% in Shanghai

Rate of HIV/AIDS
cases jumps 70% in Shanghai

The number of newly reported AIDS cases and HIV infections has jumped 70% from last year in Shanghai, China's largest city, the government said Wednesday.

The 621 new HIV/AIDS cases reported through November 20 of this year brought Shanghai's total to 2,216, of whom 97 have died, said an official at the Shanghai Municipal Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Like many Chinese bureaucrats, the official refused to give his name. He referred questions to a report issued Tuesday that showed Shanghai, a city of more than 20 million, recorded 370 new HIV/AIDS cases last year.

More than 80% of the new cases were among migrants from other parts of China, the report said. It said most cases were contracted through intravenous drug use. Unprotected sex was the main transmission route for long-term Shanghai residents.

City officials have said they are trying to encourage condom use among women working in Shanghai's thriving sex industry, with saunas and pink-windowed ''beauty salons'' serving as fronts for brothels on many Shanghai streets.

Shanghai's Public Health Bureau plans to expand the number of methadone maintenance centers from five to eight to help prevent transmission of HIV through dirty needles.

''AIDS is on the rise in Shanghai due to lack of knowledge about disease prevention and the rising migrant population,'' the state-run newspaper Shanghai Daily quoted Cai Wei, director of Shanghai's Public Health Bureau, as saying.

Last week China reported that the number of registered cases of HIV/AIDS jumped 30% in the January-October period, compared with the same period in 2005. A total of 183,733 have been recorded nationwide, but the actual number of cases is believed to be several times higher.

After years of denying that AIDS is a problem, Chinese leaders have dramatically shifted to confronting the disease more openly, promising anonymous testing, free treatment for the poor, and a ban on discrimination against people with the virus.

Experts have said sharp rises in the number of reported cases in China shows the country is doing a better job of testing and tracking the disease but also that the epidemic is spreading in many parts of the country. (AP)

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