Aids is affecting China now

As World Aids Day approaches – as you are aware, it is 1st December – stories about Aids and HIV are beginning to appear in the media.

HIV infections are growing rapidly among young, gay men in China.

Until 2001, China classified homosexuality as a mental illness and there is almost no public discussion of gay issues or rights.

Nanchang, a city of five million, said the HIV infection rate among students at the city’s colleges grew by 43% annually in the past five years. More than 80% of the new cases were the result of male same-sex encounters. There were 135 HIV infections and seven deaths across 37 colleges. The figures came as a shock.

In the 1980s and ‘90s, Beijing depicted AIDS as only existing in the West, the result of decadent, capitalist lifestyles. After an explosion of AIDS cases in Henan province among farmers who had sold blood to unlicensed blood banks, the government began acknowledging the seriousness of the disease. HIV originally affected only drug users in China, and a decade ago, men who have sex with men accounted for less than 1% of new HIV infections in China. In 2015, they made up 27%.

In the U.S. gay and bisexual men account for about 67% of new HIV diagnoses, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.