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Epidemiology of HIV in China

BMJ 2002; 324 doi: (Published 06 April 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;324:803

Intravenous drug users, sex workers, and large mobile populations are high risk groups

  1. Kong-lai Zhang, professor (,
  2. Shao-Jun Ma, chief physician
  1. Department of Epidemiology, School of Basic Medicine, Peking Union Medical College, Beijing (100005), China
  2. Gansu provincial CDC, Lanzhou, Gansu, China 730000

The first case of AIDS in China was diagnosed in 1985, heralding the HIV epidemic in mainland China. As of 30 September 2001 the Chinese Ministry of Health reported a total of 28 133 people infected with HIV, of whom 1208 had developed AIDS and 641 died. The actual number of HIV infected people in the mainland, however, is perhaps more than 600 000. UNAIDS says that China could have 10 million people with HIV or AIDS by 2010. China has been pushed into action after the number of people with HIV surged by 67.4% to 3541 in the first half of 2001.

The subtypes of HIV-1 found in China include B, Thai B, A, C, D, E, F, G, and BC and BB recombinants.13 However, the epidemiological distribution and relative importance of these subtypes need further study.

China's HIV/AIDS epidemic can be divided into three phases. The first phase, in 1985-8, involved a small number of imported cases in coastal cities—mostly foreigners and overseas Chinese. Four people with haemophilia from Zhejiang province also got infected with HIV after using imported factor VIII. The second phase, from 1989 to 1993, began with finding HIV infection in 146 drug users among minority communities in Yunnan province in the south west, adjacent to the “Golden …

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