HIV/AIDS cases down due to COVID-19 outbreak

Cai Wenjun
Official attribute a 25 percent reduction in the number of cases in the city to the impact of the novel coronavirus pandemic and its influence on social behavior.  
Cai Wenjun

Shanghai reported 1,482 new cases of HIV infection and 559 AIDS patients from January 1 to November 20.

The 25 percent reduction in both numbers from the same period in 2019 is the biggest in the past three years, Shanghai Health Commission said on Tuesday, World AIDS Day.

“The big reduction of HIV/AIDS cases is because of the novel coronavirus pandemic, which influences social activities, gatherings and business operations,” said Zhang Hao, vice director of the commission. “But the overall tendency of HIV/AIDS in Shanghai is still on a rising curve, as we haven’t effectively blocked the spreading of the virus.”

Since Shanghai reported its first HIV carrier in 1987, there have been 25,972 people with the HIV virus, 8,917 AIDS patients and 2,207 deaths.

Men are still the major infectors of HIV in Shanghai, with 91.4 percent of new cases, the same as last year.

Sex is the still the major transmission vehicle, with male to male transmission responsible for most cases. Sexual transmission was the cause for 97 percent of this year’s new HIV cases and 62.4 percent were due to male-to-male sexual behavior.

Infectors aged 60 or older cover 10 percent of new cases, the same as last year. About 84 percent of cases in the elderly are male.

There have been no mother-to-infant infections in the city for 11 consecutive years. The 18 pregnant women detected with HIV this year have received proper treatment and no infected babies have been delivered.

Shanghai has been working hard to maintain a low prevalence of HIV/AIDS through public education, promoting condoms and self-test kits, enhancing early detection and reducing the risks of sexual transmission.

Monitoring has been enhanced for nine types of people including prostitutes, drug users, male patients at sexually-transmitted disease clinics and men who have sex with men.

All city and district-level centers for disease control and prevention and neighborhood health centers have established HIV/AIDS consultation and testing centers. A total of 105 comprehensive hospitals have launched trials to encourage patients at sexually-transmitted disease clinics to be screened for HIV and syphilis.

Oral self-test kits are available at some drugstores and vending machines providing urinary testing kit have been installed in four local universities and colleges. There are some 300 kits sold through the vending machines.

“We are promoting such kits for people to do elf test at home. It is important to visit an official medical facility to double check if there are positive results,” said Ning Zhen, director of the Shanghai Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s HIV and sexually transmitted disease department.

Targeted intervention and education are the major measures for the prevention and control of HIV/AIDS. So far, over 95 percent of people at risk, including prostitutes and men who have sex with men, have received education and intervention and 90 percent have been tested. Risky behavior for people with male-to-male sex behavior has dropped by 10 percent, officials said.

Management and treatment of people with HIV/AIDS have been improved and over 90 percent of HIV/AIDS cases are being managed in the community.

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