Nearly 20,000 people in China have died from AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) over the past year, state media reported on Monday.
Official figures released in October put the number of AIDS deaths in China since its emergence in the 1980s as 68,315, compared with a tally of 49,845 in October, 2009.
Are The Chinese Numbers Accurate?
The Chinese numbers are alarming because they are on the rise, but there is also some reason to question their accuracy. The Centers for Disease Control, by comparison, puts the offical numbers of AIDS deaths in the U.S., through 2007, at more than 576,000 since the epidemic began.
Noting the huge discrepancy, some experts point out that AIDS has long had a heavy stigma attached to it in China, with many sufferers hiding their condition out of shame.
Chinese Government Pledges To Improve Reporting
However, while the government in making this announcement did not give a reason for the sharp rise in AIDS-related deaths, it did state that it has been making efforts to improve the reporting of cases, so that is good news.
Chinese officials have also started talking more openly about HIV prevention and control in China. The State Council said on Monday, November 29, that the HIV/AIDS epidemic in China was “still grave” and pledged to increase screening for the disease and improve access to antiretroviral drugs for sufferers.
8,000 AIDS Deaths Every Day
Whatever the truth of the AIDS situation in China, this disease is a global emergency claiming over 8,000 lives every day. And although the number of AIDS deaths in the U.S. has dropped dramatically with the availability of antiretroviral drugs, more than 18,000 people with AIDS still die every year in this country.
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Creative Commons - Daniel Voyager
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