China Reports Improved Health Outcomes Among HIV and AIDS Patients

Ever since the first case of HIV was reported in China in 1985, the government has been working to counter the pandemic. Regardless of such programmes, the number of infected individuals grew rapidly over the years. It reached 840,000 HIV-positive people in 2005 and 1.25 million people living with HIV or AIDS by the end of 2018.

While the reported incidence rate is low, the Chinese government has anticipated the expansion of the epidemic due to the fact that numerous individuals don’t get tested to find out their status.

While the numbers paint a troubling picture, there’s definite light in the end of the tunnel.

A report released in the end of October, 2023 suggests that the access to therapy has been expanded significantly, allowing HIV-positive individuals to achieve much better health outcomes than ever before.

Better Therapy Coverage, More People Achieving Undetectable Status

China has expanded its therapy coverage to about 90 per cent of the official cases in the country, the report concludes. Out of those in treatment, 90 per cent have already achieved full viral suppression and undetectable viral load.

Undetectable load is a term referring to the proliferation of the virus in the infected individual’s body. When this status is achieved, an HIV-positive person can no longer pass on the virus to someone else. The risk of experiencing HIV/AIDS-related health complications is almost entirely diminished, as well.

As more people have acquired access to better therapy options, the overall HIV/AIDS-related mortality rate in China has gone down. The life expectancy of HIV-positive individuals has also been extended, the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported.

How China’s Anti-HIV Programme Was Shaped Up

China launched its HIV treatment and support policy back in 2004.

As per the policy, every HIV-positive individual in the country is entitled to free antiretroviral therapy (ART), free testing, free counselling and intensified care for impoverished patients. Additionally, the children of HIV-positive individuals are provided with a free schooling option. The programme extends a number of free healthcare opportunities to HIV-positive pregnant women, as well.

Extensive analysis of this programme was performed by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences and Peking University School of Public Health. Researchers found out that the policy played a pivotal role in turning negative trends around.

According to the report, AIDS and HIV mortality has been declining since 2018.

One negative finding, however, is that the prevalence rate is still growing rapidly.

As per the study, growing HIV awareness and improved HIV screening programmes have contributed to the rising official reported rate of the disease. The more readily treatment programmes and the growing number of people managing and living with the disease have led to higher prevalence rates.

The Next Step

Undoubtedly, China’s progress has been significant and noteworthy.

The country, however, can still undertake steps to make the treatment coverage even better. As in many other parts of the world, there are still at-risk populations that don’t have the same access to healthcare options as everyone else.

According to the study authors, males and the elderly living in the western parts of China are at a higher risk of contracting the virus than the general population.

Infected patients should get easy access to screening and counselling opportunities, regardless of their location or social status. Consistently encouraging high-risk groups to seek free testing as early as possible is one of the keys to reducing the number of new infections and turning negative trends around.

HIV in China is predominantly transmitted through sexual contact. This mode of passing on the infection accounts for approximately 90 per cent of new cases.

Men who have sex in men have seen a particular increase in the rate of new infections since the 2000s. In 2014, this group represents approximately 26 per cent of new reported cases (in comparison to just 2.5 per cent back in 2006).

Two factors have made the prevalence among these individuals more cumbersome than ever before. Migration from poorer regions to urban areas is the first social phenomenon that contributed to the shift. Additionally, China has experienced some degree of liberalisation in attitudes towards gay individuals. Over the last two decades, these factors have led to more sexual activity among men who have sex with men and more reported HIV cases.

Luckily, the Chinese government’s response has been evolving. The current positive reports suggest that the measures are pointed in the right direction and while there’s still work to be done, impressive results are already being observed.

Early Testing and Management – The Keys to Beating HIV

China’s efforts serve as evidence of the fact that early screening and treatment are essential for improving outcomes and giving HIV-positive individuals long/fulfilling lives.

Regular HIV and STD testing will empower you with knowledge. Most sexually transmitted infections can be treated or managed, HIV included. ART supresses the viral load effectively, preventing HIV from progressing to AIDS and causing irreversible damage.

In Singapore, screening, counselling and treatment options are readily available through licensed facilities like Shim Clinic. Visit us during working hours every day of the week or contact Shim Clinic for a thorough, fully confidential consultation.