HIV Testing in China
American Association for the Advancement of Science
Computing, Health and Science
Exercise, Biomedical and Health Science
In the face of an infectious disease epidemic, the primary responsibility of public health is to contain and control the epidemic in order to protect the uninfected. In the area of HIV/AIDS, we have not always remembered that principle. At the end of 2003, the United Nations and the Chinese Ministry of Health (MOH) estimated that the number of people infected with HIV in China was roughly 840,000, of whom 80,000 already had AIDS. Experts have expressed fear that these numbers may, in fact, be an underestimation and have warned that, left unchecked, China could have 10 million infected by 2010. One of the main barriers to implementing effective prevention and control efforts in the country is that the majority of infected persons are not aware of their serostatus. At the end of 2005, Chinese authorities knew of only 141,241 confirmed HIV cases, 32,263 of whom had AIDS. It is important for people carrying HIV to know about their serostatus, both to prolong their own lives by accessing treatment and to prevent secondary transmission to others. Studies in the United States, Zambia, Kenya, Tanzania, Trinidad, Puerto Rico, and India have demonstrated that people who have learned that they are HIV-infected tend to reduce their risk behaviors and to adopt safer sex practices.