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2005-07-11-HIV rates rise in Chinese women
China is planning to increase its focus on women in the fight against HIV/Aids, due to a sharp rise in the rate of female infection, state media has said.
In the 1990s the male to female ratio of HIV/Aids infection was 5:1, but the figure is now closer to 2:1.
In some areas, there are now a similar number of women as men infected, the China Daily said.
The new focus on women is part of a government initiative marking World Population Day.
"The number of women infected with HIV/Aids is climbing," Wei Jian'an, an official with China's Aids Prevention and Treatment office, told the China Daily.
"Most of the recent infections in women have been sexually transmitted. Some of them belong to the high-risk group of prostitutes, while others are just ordinary housewives or career women, infected by their husbands," she said.
Many women also became infected from selling blood in the 1990s.
Health Minister Gao Qiang blamed the increasing numbers on a lack of knowledge about the disease, especially among women in poor rural areas.
"Women on the whole know less about the disease than men," Mr Gao reportedly told a recent Beijing conference, adding that fewer than 40% of women in the countryside knew how to prevent Aids.
China estimates that 840,000 of its citizens are infected with HIV, including 80,000 with Aids.
But international groups believe the real figure is much higher.
The United Nations' Aids agency says that up to 10 million Chinese people could be infected by 2010 without more aggressive prevention measures.