China now counts more than half a million people with HIV/AIDS, and a new survey suggests that caseload reflects what could be a "hidden epidemic" in the Asia Pacific region. Much of the recent increase is among adolescents.
The China CDC said that at the end of October, 575,000 people were infected with the disease, a ratio of 6 out of every 10,000. The agency said the rate qualifies as a "mild pandemic," adding that the incidents are led by infections among gay men, with about 8% of China's gay population living with HIV/AIDS.
As with the rest of the Asia Pacific region, China also is seeing a noticeable increase among heterosexual young people. The CDC said it counted a 27.8% increase in those cases between January and October of this year.
Many teenagers in the region are dying of AIDS, an indication they are not tested early enough, according to the United Nations Children's Fund. One barrier to testing is that minors need parental consent.
The international agency said one in 7 of new infections in the region last year was among youths between 15 and 19 years old. Among a wider group, 10 to 19, deaths related to AIDS more than doubled in the decade ending in 2014, to 6,600, it said.
Still, the older teenagers accounted for 50,000 new cases in the region last year, a large chunk of the overall 220,000 youths 10 to 19 living with the disease. The study estimated that not even a third of adolescents testing positive receive antiretroviral treatment, in many cases because they don't want their parents to know they had sex.
The 10 countries hardest hit are Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Myanmar, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam.