The HIV/AIDS epidemic is hitting young Chinese students, particularly males, hard with annually reported cases surging more than four times in the past seven years, said the nation's top AIDS specialist.
China has reported more than 3,400 student cases of HIV/AIDS this year, compared with 779 in 2008, said Wu Zunyou, head of the National Center for AIDS/STD Control and Prevention.
Over the same period, the number of annually reported cases has almost doubled, he said, citing a real-time epidemic surveillance system. There have been roughly 110,000 new cases reported this year.
"It's a tough challenge protecting particularly young students from HIV/AIDS," he told China Daily.
According to Wu, a majority of infected students are males aged 18 to 22 and nearly 81 percent contracted the virus through gay sex.
By comparison, heterosexual sex still exceeds gay sex as a major transmission route among males and females of the same age group.
Geographically, the provinces of southwest Sichuan and east Jiangsu and the capital Beijing reported most student cases.
Of detected student sufferers, 83 percent are undergoing antiretroviral therapy and more than 90 percent are covered by follow-up services such as disease development surveillance and behavior intervention.
Both figures are higher than non-students of the same age, said Zhao Yan, deputy director of the AIDS Treatment and Care Division of the National Center for AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Disease Control and Prevention.