AIDS in China
Posted by Henry Bauer on 2009/02/19
“AIDS has become China’s deadliest infectious disease for the first time, the government says. It says figures show that at least one person died every hour, on average, in the first nine months of last year.
AIDS overtook tuberculosis and rabies as the country’s number one disease killer in 2008, the health ministry said in a report released on Tuesday. Although full-year figures were not released, the ministry said the 6,897 people who died from AIDS from January to September made it the deadliest infectious disease. It said 34,864 people had died from AIDS since it was first detected in China in the 1980s. A total of 264,302 people were confirmed to have contracted the HIV virus that leads to AIDS, the report said. However those figures are a vast underestimate of the true picture, as the tally refers only to confirmed incidents of the condition. China actually had an estimated 700,000 HIV/AIDS carriers in 2007, with an estimated 85,000 people infected that year, according to the ministry.”
Not long after that, David Crowe sent a pertinent dispatch that he allows me to post (slightly edited):
“Someone seems to want to make AIDS a big issue in China, as evidenced by this article which has some interesting numbers and statements. Although this made a big splash in the newspaper (full color covering all of page 7), the article was not mentioned on the home page of the newspaper for that day.
The article claims that ‘one-to-one education…is 100 percent effective’… Yet a team funded by Asia Development Bank, Chinese Preventive Medicine Association, Humana People to People and the Yunnan Poverty Alleviation and Development Office ‘visited about 500,000 households, workplaces and schools’… But only ‘offered advice to an estimated 250,000 people’. Were the people not home? Did they slam the door in their face? And, more important, ‘More than 2,000 have already been persuaded to take VCT [voluntary counselling and testing]’. Maybe the counselling is effective, but it doesn’t seem like most Chinese want to be counselled. And how voluntary is the counselling. One volunteer quoted at the top of the article says that ‘she sometimes had to resort to confrontational tactics to help break down people’s barriers’ … ‘it can take one or two months of visits before someone finally opens up their heart to me’…’Only friends can share their intimate moments, and by becoming their friend and showing them they can trust me I can convince them to take voluntary testing’. This sounds like desperation to me. Weeks of confrontation, begging and pleading before one person can be convinced to get tested. Another interesting number is that this project has 2,000 village volunteers to put on shows in markets, but so far only 10,000 people have seen these shows, that’s 5 people per volunteer.
There are some statistics claiming that HIV is now the leading infectious killer in China, although the statistics are so poorly reported that it is impossible to know if they are cumulative or annual, refer to all of China or just to a region.
I think that somewhere behind this there must be a Chinese CDC report. Obviously they are trying to open up a new front in this war, convincing the Chinese that this is a big health problem.
What are the real health problems in China? Well, clearly air quality (respiratory disease) and contaminants in water and food. For example, in the same issue, was a story about children experiencing kidney stones due to milk previously deemed to be ‘safe’ by authorities. Yet there is an epidemic of kidney stones (or worse) in consumers of one brand of formula. Obviously Chinese parents, experiencing prosperity, are making the disastrous choice to not breastfeed their children. This problem alone has left over 300,000 children with kidney ailments according to the China Daily (which is unlikely to exaggerate the problem).
Yet the supposed 7,000 deaths this year due to ‘AIDS’ get bigger headlines.”