Student HIV Epidemic Alarms Changsha Officials
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2017-04-22 10:35:17

A university-rich district in Changsha, capital of central Hunan province, is in the throes of an HIV epidemic, local paper Sanxiang Metropolis Daily reported Saturday.

The Yuelu District Center for Disease Control and Prevention called an emergency meeting on Friday morning to address the fact that 106 students have tested positive for HIV.

As of April 6, Yuelu District had 603 people living with HIV. The article did not elaborate on the period of time over which the infections occurred.

Because of the presence of several educational institutions, including Hunan, Hunan Normal, and Zhongnan universities, Yuelu District has a high concentration of students, which the report named as a group heavily affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

While the district government has reportedly worked to raise awareness of HIV on college campuses, communication between adults and young people about such matters is generally poor in China, where there is an especially strong stigma against people with HIV.

In December 2015, a man in the southern city of Guangzhou sued his former employer for suspending him indefinitely after learning that he had HIV, and hospitals in some parts of the country routinely refuse to operate on patients who test positive.

In July 2016, the World Health Organization and the United Nations jointly urged China to do a better job protecting the carrier status of people with HIV, who, in addition to verbal discrimination at work, are also at a disproportionately high risk of physical abuse at home.

The Yuelu District Center for Disease Control and Prevention could not be reached for comment on Saturday evening. However, a female staff member at the municipal center in Changsha who refused to give her name told Sixth Tone she had not heard about the recent cases of HIV in Yuelu and could not confirm whether there were HIV awareness and prevention campaigns on university campuses.

Additional reporting: Fu Danni; contributions: Kevin Schoenmakers.

(Header image: A medical worker transfers serum from a blood sample during an HIV test in Hefei, Anhui province, Nov. 29, 2004. Ma Qibing/VCG)