The number of new HIV/AIDS cases in China has grown approximately 13 percent in the first 10 months of the year, leading the country’s premier-in-waiting to promise that non-government organizations would become more involved.
Li Keqiang recently spoke with non-governmental groups working on HIV/AIDS, saying that the government would allow them to be more active in fighting the epidemic, Reuters reports.
“You have a greater understanding of what sufferers want…the government will continue to offer support and pay even greater attention to and listen more closely to the voices of civil society groups and you will be given greater space to play your role,” Keqiang said, according to Reuters.
The number of people infected with HIV jumped by more than 20 percent in people aged 50 and above. As of the end of October, 492,191 people were living with HIV/AIDS in China. The Health Ministry has reported 68,802 new cases so far in 2012.
Approximately 84.9 percent of new cases contracted the virus through sexual intercourse and transmission rates rose sharply among men who have sex with men.
The Chinese government was initially slow to acknowledge the issue of HIV/AIDS in the 1990s. China attempted to cover up hundreds of thousands of cases in impoverished farmers in the rural Henan province arising through botched blood-selling schemes.
While Beijing has launched schemes to give universal access to anti-retroviral drugs and to curb discrimination, people with the disease in the country say they are frequently stigmatized and harassed, Reuters reports.