The Chinese Ministry of Health, UNAIDS and WHO estimate that 700,000 people are infected with HIV in the whole of China. Among them 30.8 per cent are women. They also estimate that the rate of infection among the whole population is 0.05 per cent. People with AIDS number 85,000. In 2007 there were 50,000 newly-infected people and the number of AIDS- related deaths was 20,000. People infected with HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) do not necessarily yet show symptoms, while AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) refers to the situation where people show symptoms of the disease.
In China, the first case of HIV/AIDS was reported in 1985. After that, numbers started to increase. In July 2008, the accumulated cases of People with AIDS (PWAs) were reported as 75,257 and people with HIV as 257,668. The reported cases of HIV/AIDS increased in 2004, but decreased shortly after that. This increase was temporary because it was caused by blood selling conducted in the Henan area. The cases reported are constantly increasing in the categories of IDUs, heterosexual sexual contact, and unknown routes. The rate of sexually transmitted cases is increasing and in 2007 it was estimated that among newly infected cases 44.7 per cent were through heterosexual sexual conduct, and 12.2 per cent were through male-to-male sexual behaviour. The other 42 per cent were through IDU and 1.1 per cent were by mother – to-child transmission. As for age, 70 per cent of the cases reported in these ten years are people in their twenties and thirties.
The HIV trend in China started in Yunnan prefecture and by 1998 infection had extended all over China. The infection rate is high in the south-western region and molecular epidemiology shows that a particular variety of the virus has begun to enter from South East Asian countries. It is projected that in the future the metropolitan cities of China will become epicentres of the epidemic.
The Chinese government increased the AIDS-related budget after the outbreak of SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) in 2003 and recently has begun positive strategies for prevention. Regarding infection among blood sellers, the government closed the blood centres and introduced a harm reduction program at the national level. This issue arose because in rural China from the end of 1980s to the early 1990s many blood stations emerged where people sold their own blood to make money. This was a popular and convenient means for farmers to get money. When the blood was collected from donors, it seems that syringes were not being sterilised. The estimated 130,000,000 who migrate from rural areas to the major cities for jobs are also expected to be vulnerable to HIV infection in the future (see also Chen 2007; Choi et al. 2006; Gu and Renwick 2008; Wei 2012).