Image: Michel Sidibe
Eugene Hoshiko  /  AP
Michel Sidibe, executive director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), shows the agency's new report during its launch press conference ahead of World AIDS Day on Tuesday. The report says that the virus that causes AIDS is spreading fastest in China through heterosexual sex, a trend requiring changes in strategy to fight the disease.
updated 11/25/2009 9:39:34 AM ET 2009-11-25T14:39:34

The virus that causes AIDS is now spreading fastest in China through heterosexual sex.

A United Nations report says the trend demands new strategies to stave off a rebound in the epidemic after years of progress in containing it.

Data show that 40 percent of new HIV infections diagnosed in China were acquired through heterosexual contact. Homosexual sex accounts for 32 percent. Most of the remainder relates to drug abuse, which was previously the main source of infections and the government's main focus for prevention.

UNAIDS says the rate of infections through heterosexual sex in China tripled between 2005-2007. Since 2007, the number of infections through homosexual sex has more than doubled.

China's health minister reports that as of the end of October, the number of Chinese confirmed to be living with HIV-AIDS was nearly 320,000, up from 264,000 last year. But he says the actual level of infections is probably near 740,000.

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