There were 1,700 students infected with HIV last year, Yu Jingjin, director of the bureau of disease control and prevention under the National Health and Family Planning Commission, was quoted by Xinhua News Agency as saying on Saturday.
Yu said 64.8 percent contracted the virus through sex with people of the same gender. Eighty-seven percent of HIV cases were sexually transmitted.
In China, more than 7,000 students are HIV carriers or AIDS patients, Yu said during an event to promote HIV prevention on campuses.
Wang Ning, deputy director of the National Center for AIDS/STD Control and Prevention, said most of the 1,700 cases were male college students, and were reported by various non-government organizations around the country that focus on helping men who have sex with men.
Wang said more people are being tested for HIV, which is one of the reasons for the increase in new cases in 2012.
The number of HIV tests taken nationwide rose from more than 60 million in 2010 to 100 million in 2012, and the number of people infected has been on the rise every year, Wang said.
“Many more gay people are coming out and doing the test nowadays due to a more open public opinion,” he said.
He also said that a more open attitude toward sex and unsafe sex is another reason for the increase.
According to the former health ministry, 84.9 percent of the new HIV cases reported from January to October 2012 were contracted through sex, and 21.1 percent of them through men having sex with other men.
The disease caused 17,740 deaths between January and October last year, an 8.6 percent increase over the same period the year before, according to figures of the ministry.
Poor awareness of safe sex increases the risks of young people getting infected, said Ye Dawei, deputy secretary-general of the China Red Ribbon Foundation, a non-government organization working to prevent HIV and support people affected by the virus.
“Many students in junior high school have had sexual experience, let alone those in senior high school and college. But schools and parents are not willing to tell these young people how to protect themselves,” he said. “Also, young people are facing more temptation in this information age. I have heard of some college students offering sex through the Internet for money to buy things such as an iPhone.”
The foundation is conducting a program to educate college students and migrant workers on how to prevent HIV/AIDS, and has reached out to more than 5,000 students in 200 universities around the country, Ye said.
“College students are in a relatively active stage of sex. There will be more and more cases of HIV infection among them if they are not guided in the right way.”