HIV spreading among China's elderly: 80-year-old infected

HIV spreading among China's elderly: 80-year-old infectedBeijing, Aug 6 - A nearly 80-year-old man in China has been diagnosed with HIV, with doctors saying he got infected due to "frequent unprotected sex".

The case is the latest to support experts' opinion that the HIV virus is spreading fast among elderly Chinese men who have been largely neglected in the country's anti-AIDS campaigns, Xinhua reported.

The man, whose identity has been concealed for privacy reasons, was admitted to Zhongnan hospital in the central Chinese city of Wuhan with a lingering fever. He was later found to be HIV positive, doctors said Friday.

The man was widowed in his old age, has no record of blood transfusions, but had an "active unprotected sexual life", they said.

Gao Shicheng, an HIV specialist in Zhongnan hospital, said HIV/AIDS has started to infect middle-aged and elderly Chinese men who have little or no AIDS prevention knowledge.

Gao said this year alone he diagnosed two senior men with HIV. Both contracted the virus through unprotected sex outside marriage.

A recent survey conducted by the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (China CDC) shows that among the new HIV infections, the percentage of people aged 50 or above with it grew from 7.8 to 14.9 percent. Most of them were male and were found to have contracted the virus through sexual intercourse.

Experts say the spread of HIV/AIDS has picked up among elderly Chinese men in recent years because China's senior citizens have become healthier, more open-minded about sex, and increasingly bored after retirement.

According to a UNAIDS estimate, the country had about 740,000 people living with HIV by the end of 2009. Among them, 105,000 were estimated to have AIDS.

By the end of August 2010, the cumulative total of reported HIV positives in China was 361,599, with 65,104 recorded deaths. (IANS)