China’s government has launched a public relations offensive against HIV/AIDS, timed to the upcoming Olympics in Beijing. But poor communication between local and federal governments still fuels infections nationwide. In the first six months of 2007, more than 18,000 new HIV cases were recorded, and activists say China vastly underreports its infections.

The activist group Asia Catalyst says that in rural provinces, citizens are selling and receiving unscreened blood, threatening the country’s entire supply. UNAIDS and the CDC say that some 69,000 commercial blood-product donors and recipients are living with HIV: 10.7 percent of China’s total cases.

“I think the world is looking at China closely now, and I think that the authorities in China are aware of that,” says Asia Catalyst’s Sara Davis, PhD.  “It’s a good moment for us to start addressing these issues for the long term.”