Beijing: Gay and bisexual men account for about one in every three new cases of HIV in China which has about 7.5 lakh people affected by HIV/AIDS syndrome.

About five percent of the group, officially termed men who have sex with men, or MSM are living with the virus, which is 88 times higher than the national HIV prevalence rate of 0.057 per cent, figures released by Chinese Health Ministry has said. The problem is acute in large urban centres where the prevalence rate is almost 20 per cent, it said.
   
According to official estimates, China's population of gays is anywhere between five and ten million but Zhang Beichun, a leading expert on HIV at Qingdao University puts it around 30 million, state run 'China Daily' reported.

However, the statistics also show that less than half of all gay and bisexual men have access to HIV screening, while about 15 per cent of those who are infected are not receiving treatment.

"Cities are at the heart of China's development and progress and must remain at the forefront of its HIV response," said Michel Sidibe, executive director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), during a workshop on HIV impact on MSM in Chengdu, capital of Southwest China's Sichuan province.

"Through bold action cities can lead the way to achieving the UNAIDS vision of zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths," he said, according to a UNAIDS release. "We hope that over the next many more Chinese cities will implement MSM strategies," he said.

 According to UNAIDS China had an estimated 740,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in 2009.

(Agencies)