Despite a downward revision in the figures, the infection rate is still rising Beijing cut its estimate of the number of HIV carriers in the country by 30 per cent to 650,000 yesterday, but international health agencies warned that the situation was still dire and there was no room for complacency. There were an estimated 70,000 new HIV cases on the mainland last year, while government records showed the nation had 75,000 Aids patients. A joint assessment by the Ministry of Health, UNAids and the World Health Organisation was released yesterday after months of delay due to fears by mainland officials that a significantly lower number of HIV infections might put a damper on overseas donations and draw criticism about the credibility of mainland data. The central government and the UN agencies said the new estimate was derived from better data collection and calculation models, and there was no sign that the epidemic was abating. They said the 70,000 new HIV cases recorded last year was clear evidence that HIV was on the rise. 'The new numbers should not mask the fact that HIV infections are on the rise,' a joint press release said. 'An upward trend can be seen if the figures for 2003 are recalculated using more complete data and better estimates of the size of groups at risk of being infected. There is clearly no room for complacency.' The new prevalence rate now stands at 0.05 while 25,000 people died of Aids last year. Wu Zunyou , director of the Centre for HIV/Aids Prevention at the China Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, said the revised estimate was 190,000 cases less than the original assessment because the government had overestimated the number of people infected by illicit blood trading in the 1990s. 'The media reported earlier that there might have been hundreds of thousands HIV infections caused by blood sales in Henan province alone,' China News Service quoted him as saying yesterday. 'However, large-scale screening was conducted among high-risk groups in the past two years and some 20,000 HIV carriers were found among 280,000 people with a history of blood sales.' According to a breakdown of the infections, about 288,000 HIV carriers, or 44.3 per cent, are intravenous drug users while prostitutes and their clients comprise the second largest group, taking up 127,000 cases, or 19.6 per cent of the total estimate. Illegal blood donors who are HIV positive are estimated at 69,000 cases, or 10.7 per cent of the total infections, while the male homosexual community takes up 47,000 cases, or 7.3 per cent. More than 190,000 HIV carriers were spouses of HIV carriers and members of the general public not belonging to any high-risk group. Mr Wu said the rise of homosexual activity among migrant workers could easily provide a bridge to spread the virus across homosexual and heterosexual groups.