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Estimating the number of people at risk for and living with HIV in China in 2005: methods and results
  1. F Lu1,
  2. N Wang1,
  3. Z Wu1,
  4. X Sun2,
  5. J Rehnstrom3,
  6. K Poundstone4,
  7. W Yu5,
  8. E Pisani6
  1. 1National Centre for AIDS/STD Control, China Centre for Disease Control, Beijing, China
  2. 2Division of HIV/AIDS Control, Ministry of Health, China
  3. 3Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, Beijing, China
  4. 4World Health Organization, Beijing, China
  5. 5China Centre for Disease Control, Beijing, China
  6. 6Consultant, Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS Regional Support Team, Bangkok, Thailand
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr F Lu
 National Centre for AIDS /STD Control and Prevention, China Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, No 27 Nanwei Road, Beijing, China 100050; fanlv{at}


Background: No new estimates of HIV infection have been available for China since 2003. However, since then, data availability has increased dramatically.

Objectives: To use internationally recommended methods to make new estimates of the number of people exposed to HIV in China, the number living with HIV, and the number of new HIV infections and deaths in 2005.

Methods: The UNAIDS Workbook method was adapted to meet the needs of China. Local data were used to estimate the size of each risk population and HIV prevalence by risk group for every prefecture. These estimates were combined into provincial and national estimates. The UNAIDS Estimates and Projections Package and Spectrum were used to derive estimates of incidence and mortality from prevalence data, taking into account treatment.

Results: It was estimated that 650 000 people are living with HIV/AIDS in China (range 540 000–760 000), of whom 70 000 were newly infected in 2005 (range 60 000–80 000). Between 20 000 and 30 000 people are estimated to have died of HIV in 2005. The new estimate compares with an estimate of 840 000 people living with HIV/AIDS in 2003 (range 650 000–1 020 000). The estimated number of infected former plasma donors fell from 199 000 to 55 000. Infections remain concentrated among drug injectors, those buying and selling sex, and men who have sex with men.

Conclusion: The new estimates are based on a much wider range of surveillance data as well as mass screening of former plasma donors, and are made at the prefecture level. More limited data from high prevalence provincial surveillance sites led to past estimates that now seem too high. New infections outpace death, and the HIV epidemic in China is still growing.

  • ARV, antiretroviral
  • EPP, Estimates and Projection Package
  • FSW, female sex workers
  • IDU, injecting drug user
  • MSM, men who have sex with men
  • UNAIDS, Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS
  • WHO, World Health Organization
  • estimation
  • population size estimation
  • China

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  • * In this paper we use the word “province” to refer to all of China’s provinces, autonomous regions, and municipalities, as well as the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps.

  • Competing interests: none.

  • Estimations were made using existing data sources, and no ethical approvals were sought.

  • Edited by Peter Ghys, Neff Walker, Helen Ward and Rob Miller