Up to 850,000 people in China were infected by the HIV virus at the end of last year, according to figures compiled by the national disease control centre and reported by Xinhua. This is significantly higher than the previous estimate of 600,000 published in 2001. The number of full-blown Aids cases was estimated at 200,000, of whom more than half have already died. Experts at the United Nations and the World Health Organisation estimate that up to 1.5m people could be infected with HIV. They claim that the Chinese authorities have failed to conduct comprehensive surveys and that many local officials suppress information because they are reluctant to acknowledge that prostitution or drug trafficking takes place in their areas.