GUANGZHOU, Jan. 1 -- A Xin found out he was infected with HIV during a free HIV test for gay men three years ago, when he was a university postgraduate.
"Many male homosexuals have assumed they are far removed from the disease, knowing nothing at all about their own infections," said A Xin in the south China city of Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong Province.
A Xin's words shed light on the HIV/AIDS situation among young people in colleges and universities in China, where MSMs (men who have sex with men) constitute an increasingly important group in the fight against AIDS.
The first student HIV infection in Guangzhou was identified in 2002. To date, the city has reported a total of 117 cases in 48 colleges or universities, according to Xu Huifang, a doctor with the Guangzhou Disease Prevention and Control Center.
Ninety percent were infected via homosexual behavior, with MSMs making up the majority of those infected, Xu told Xinhua. One university in Guangzhou reported 10 HIV/AIDS cases, the most of any university in the city.
"But not all college students take HIV tests. Therefore, the real number (of HIV/AIDS cases) may be much bigger," said Wang Ming, director of the center.
He Haolan, a contagious disease doctor at Guangdong No. 8 People's Hospital, shared a similar view.
In the past two years, the number of HIV infection cases she has received among college students or graduates has increased significantly. Almost all of them were infected via high-risk sexual behaviors, according to He.
"It used to be very rare to see a college student come here for HIV tests, but it has become common in the past two years," said He. "The youngest (AIDS) patient I have ever met was a 15-year-old girl who is a middle school student."
China reported 70,000 cases of new HIV infections in the first nine months of 2013, bringing the total number of people living with HIV/AIDS to 434,000 in the country, according to the top health authority.
Official statistics showed sexual transmission accounted for 89.9 percent of the new cases from January to September. About 69 percent of all new cases resulted from heterosexual behavior while another 21 percent occurred through homosexual contact.
In Guangzhou, HIV/AIDS cases in those between the ages of 15 and 24 increased from 101 in 2008 to 203 in 2012, according to Tang Xiaoping, Communist Party chief of the Guangzhou Health Bureau.
Due to impulse, curiosity or unprotected sex, the number of HIV infections among students has been on the rise in recent years in Guangzhou, Tang said.
Student infection cases in Guangzhou increased 50 percent year-on-year in 2012, Tang said. The number of HIV-infected students grew from seven in 2008 to 25 in 2012 in the city.