70% Of China's IV Drug
Users Are HIV+ - 8 Strains
Found Already

BEIJING - (Agence France Presse) In parts of China, seventy percent of intravenous drug users are HIV positive, the state press reported on Friday, adding scientists had identified eight different strains of HIV and AIDS in the country.
The China Daily said: "It took five to six years to reach an infection rate of 70 percent among drug addicts in Yunnan, but only two to three years in Xinjiang."
Yunnan in southwest China borders the "golden triangle" poppy fields in Myanmar, Laos and Thailand, whilst Xinjiang is in China's western-most region bordering the central Asian poppy growing regions around Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The paper said cases were also concentrated in the southwestern province of Sichuan, while other high incidence areas were the southern coastal province of Guangdong and the central provinces of Henan and Hebei.
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) virus and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) first began appearing in China in the late 1980s and early 1990s amongst drug users in the southwest, according to international health workers.
While the number of reported HIV infections across China rose to 11,170 by the end of 1998, officials estimate that between 300,000 and 400,000 Chinese are unknowingly infected with the deadly virus.
HIV/AIDS infections are expected to reach one million by the year 2000.
Meanwhile the China Daily said scientists had identified eight different strains of HIV/AIDS virus in China, placing them at the head of the field in the number of HIV/AIDS viruses isolated.
"Researchers with the National HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Center discovered through three years of surveillance and laboratory testing that eight sub-types of the HIV-1 virus -- A, B, B', C, D, E, F and G -- exist and are prevalent in China," the China Daily newspaper reported.
Laboratory results of blood samples from 600 HIV/AIDS carriers in 30 Chinese provinces revealed 47.5 percent of samples were sub-type B', transmitted by intravenous drugs users in Thailand.
Over 34 percent of the blood samples were sub-type C, which originated from drug users in India, and 9.6 percent were sub-type E, which the paper said came from Southeast Asia.
Sub-type B' was prevalent in all areas, while sub-type C was concentrated in Xinjiang, Yunnan, Sichuan and Guizhou provinces and sub-type E was mostly found in southeastern coastal areas and southwestern border areas.
The African-originating sub-types A, D and G were found among laborers in hinterland provinces, while sub-type F, which is mostly found distributed across South America, was found only in Guangdong Province.
Drug users, who became infected by sharing needles, were often infected with sub-type B' and C, it said, while all strains, especially the E strain, were transmitted by sexual contact.