Emerging needs in China’s reproductive health landscape
Family planning has long been a priority for the People’s Republic of China. The country’s contraceptive prevalence rate is the highest in the world, with 85 percent of adult women using some form of protection. Contraceptives are available through a wide network of national family planning clinics.
China’s national system was originally designed to prioritize the needs of the country’s millions of married women. But today, economic, health, and cultural shifts are changing the face of China, and meeting the reproductive needs of new populations—including unmarried women and men—is becoming increasingly important. Young people are flocking to cities for jobs, and a new generation of youth is attending universities and delaying marriage to prioritize careers. These consumers are well educated and savvy about everything from their fast food choices to consumer goods. Like youth around the world, they want convenience and choice. However, information about sex and reproductive health options has not been readily available.
Young people also represent an emerging, and significant, set of health needs not fully addressed by China’s current family planning system. Abortion rates in China are increasing (estimated at 16.5 million in 2008) with more than one-third of abortions among women aged 20 to 24, and half representing repeat abortions.* Sexually transmitted infections in China are also on the rise. Reported syphilis cases increased from 93,000 to 193,000 between 2005 and 2011. And the number of people living with HIV/AIDS is increasing, although the incidence is low compared to other countries. Sexual transmission is now the most frequent means of HIV transmission, having increased from 42 percent of cases in 2007 to 90 percent in 2013. Today, HIV infection increasingly a ects married and unmarried couples.
To meet these emerging health needs, much greater access to easy-to-use contraceptives that o er dual protection is critical.