A new survey unveils some startling statistics about the world's most populous nation--most Chinese citizens have no idea what causes AIDS or how to prevent it, and more than 17% of China's residents have never even heard of the disease, Reuters Health reports. China's government estimates that 850,000 of China's nearly 1.3 billion people are currently HIV-positive. Some experts, however, believe the number could be much higher, with infections numbering in the millions.
Researcher Deborah Holtzman of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention worked on the new study with researchers from the CDC, Emory University, and China's State Family Planning Commission. Of survey respondents who had heard of HIV, 73% did not know it was a virus, and 89% did not know how it can be detected. More than 20% could not name any routes by which it can be transmitted, and 77% did not know that condoms could prevent infection. One in six of the survey respondents had never heard of HIV/AIDS.
"I was surprised and discouraged, because there was such a consistent lack of knowledge on all our measures," Holtzman said. "If people don't know how to prevent it, that just makes the problem so much worse." The full study can be seen online at www.aidscience.org.