China's HIV Crisis

Gill, Bates; Chang, Jennifer; Palmer, Sarah
March 2002
Foreign Affairs;Mar/Apr2002, Vol. 81 Issue 2, p96
Although China is enjoying growing wealth, increasing per capita incomes, and rising living standards, it also suffers from environmental degradation, political unrest, increased crime, and a fraying social safety net. The growing problem of HIV/AIDS in China is a glaring example of the dangers of opening up a society. After years of neglect, the Chinese government is now beginning to recognize the enormity of the country's HIV/AIDS problem. The crisis emerged largely due to recent, dramatic changes in demography and social mores in the country, as well as deteriorating health care practices. The fastest growing cause of the disease's spread is unprotected sex within the heterosexual population. Intravenous drug use and prostitution are also major causes. The cultural taboo against blood donation is responsible for China suffering chronically low blood supplies, which obviously contributes to the problem. The author asserts that anti-HIV efforts in China should focus on education and awareness, improved health care, and intensified government oversight. The political context in which these steps should occur is equally important. And the international community can help. The first matter of business should be an accurate assessment of the actual magnitude of the crisis.


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