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will gradually spread into the general population. According to the Ministry of Health2, by the end of June 2005 the cumulative reported number of HIV positive cases nationwide was 126,808. However, due to the limited coverage of any surveillance system, it was estimated that about 840,000 were infected. Up to the end of June 2005, there were 28,789 AIDS patients recorded and a total of 7,375 deaths caused by AIDS.

There are four characteristics of the AIDS epidemic in China:


HIV positive cases are mainly found in rural areas;


intravenous drug use is the major cause of infection;


among the HIV positive cases, 75% of them are men;


more than 80% of cases are between the ages of 20-39.

HIV infection among drug users was only reported in one province before 1995 but was found in all 31 provinces/autonomous regions/municipalities by 2002. There is an increasing trend of drug use in China. About 901,000 drug use cases were recorded in 2001 and it is estimated that about 450,000 incidents of intravenous drug use happen each day in China. It is generally perceived that drug use is still the major cause of HIV infection in China. According to experts, infection through blood donation has been controlled and the probability of further spread is very small.

Meanwhile, infections among sex workers have increased drastically in the last few years and will become a major threat in the future. The HIV/AIDS epidemic has spread into the homosexual as well as the heterosexual population, thus it will almost inevitably spread to the general population.

(A) Internal migrants

The dramatic growth in internal migration since 1980 has resulted in a situation where an estimated 120 million people live away from their place of household registration. These informal internal migrants or 'floating population' are mostly from rural areas: they are often young, usually travel without their families and half of them are men. They are a group of people who are often excluded by the community at their destination and are treated as 'outsiders': they do not have registration and access to services.

2 Information source: China HIV/AIDS Information Network, www.chain.net.cn

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