June 27, 2012

Spelling out HIV risk in urban China

Research reveals clues to HIV risk in Chinese men who have sex with other men.

Dramatic economic and social changes in China over the past 30 years have transformed attitudes toward sexuality. As risky sexual activity is increasingly common in both the general population and college students, sexually transmitted infections, once rare in China, have been rapidly increasing and are particularly high in some large Chinese cities.


Han-Zhu Qian, assistant professor of medicine, and colleagues compared the risks of HIV and syphilis infection among student and non-student men who have sex with other men in a metropolitan city in southwestern China.

They report in PLoS ONE that overall HIV and syphilis rates were high. But although the prevalence of risky sexual behaviors was similar in both groups, HIV rate among students was one-quarter of that in non-students (5.5 percent in students versus 20.9 percent in non-students). There was no significant difference in syphilis rate between two groups. The authors caution that the actual HIV rate among students might be higher due to the shorter time the student population has been sexually active.

The research was supported by grants from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (AI078933, AI094562) and the Fogarty International Center (TW001035) of the National Institutes of Health, the Ministry of Science and Technology of China, and the Chinese State Key Laboratory for Infectious Disease.