Gays, long neglected in China out of moral concern, are a group that exists and is of major concern to fight against HIV/AIDS, said Chinese Vice Health Minister Wang Longde Wednesday.
At the Aug. 29 to Sept. 1, Beijing Plus Ten meeting commemorating the tenth anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women, Wang said that the Chinese government cannot fail to admit that gays exist and neglect them as they are very important in checking the spread of AIDS.
How to deal with gays is a serious problem, he said, pointing out that many gays not only have sex with men, but also with women, who could well be infected with the HIV virus.
According to UNAIDS, the U.N. body coordinating the fight against the disease, the number of people living with HIV/AIDS is 39.4 million. Over the past two years, AIDS patients in east Asia and Pacific region increased by 50 percent.
China had 840,000 people infected with HIV at the end of 2003 and experts predict that the number of people living with HIV/AIDS in China could exceed 10 million by 2010 if no strong measures are taken.
But the number was only an estimate as it is hard to tell how many people actually live with HIV/AIDS.
China is investigating the spread of HIV in many regions across the country, and will offer a "much more accurate figure" to be released around World AIDS Day on Dec. 1, said Wang.