Monday, December 1, 2008

Lingering Misconceptions

Today is World Aids Day and China is marking it with a giant red ribbon at the National Stadium, or Bird's Nest as seen in this photo from UNAIDS China.

The country is still in denial over the actual numbers of HIV/AIDS sufferers because in order to get treatment, people need to get registered and for them, having others know would be the death of them socially.

Currently the Ministry of Health claims there are more than 260,000 with HIV/AIDS in China, but the government, UNAIDS and the World Health Organization estimate the number could be as high as 700,000.

Part of the reason is many people who have HIV don't know they have it and haven't tested for it.

Apparently the government is now blaming prostitutes for not insisting their clients use condoms because sexual transmission has surpassed injected drug use. But more onus should be put on everyone to practice safe sex.

But aside from that, there are still misconceptions about HIV/AIDS that leave many in the west flabbergasted by the ignorance and lack of information the Chinese have about it.

A survey this year of residents in six Chinese cities found more than 48 percent thought they could become infected from mosquito bites, and 18 percent believed they could catch it by being sneezed or coughed on by someone living with HIV.

In addition, nearly 32 percent thought the people who have HIV/AIDS deserved it because of their drug use or sexual behaviour; almost 48 percent would not eat with someone with HIV; and 30 percent felt children with HIV should not attend the same schools as uninfected children.

While these statistics about people's attitudes towards HIV/AIDS are frightening, the government is doing little to dispel rumours or correct misconceptions. While Chinese state media wrote about the survey, they didn't explain medically or scientifically there was nothing wrong with touching a person infected with HIV, or explain the almost impossible chances of getting infected from a mosquito bite.

Nor do the articles or any government information say anything about how people should practice safe sex or that say, using condoms are the best way to not only prevent HIV/AIDS but also other sexually-transmitted diseases as well as unwanted pregnancies.

The government always seems to skip a step each time when they claim they are informing their citizens. The same goes for environmental protection. They tell people to care more about the environment, but then don't explain that this entails not littering, separating your garbage, and using less packaging and plastic bags.

If China really wants to prevent HIV/AIDS from getting out of hand, it should really educate its people about the real facts and help those suffering from being branded as outcasts.

Putting a giant red ribbon the Bird's Nest looks good, but is it really helping the situation?


Anonymous said...

public awareness and sex education is one way to prevent this epidemic.

treatment centers said...

AIDS is just one of the many effects of the illegal drugs (using of injection/sharing of needles).The blood of an addict and HIV positive person will be linked by the same needle they are using.