Concerned by alarming rise in abortions and HIV cases, China plans to focus more on sexual education with special courses on health in higher education institutions.
From January to September 2016, there were 96,000 new HIV infections, with 24.4 per cent in the 20-29 age group, according to China's National Centre for AIDS/STD Control and Prevention.
Zhang said Chinese adolescents now have the fastest- growing numbers of HIV infections. And over 90 per cent of infections come through sexual transmission.
The core measure in promoting AIDS prevention for Chinese youth is to implement proper sex education, Zhang Yinjun, director of the AIDS Prevention Education Project for Chinese Youth was quoted as saying by the state-run Xinhua news agency.
Teenage pregnancies and premarital abortions are also rising. The National Health and Family Planning Commission reported in 2015 that approximately 13 million abortions are performed annually in China, the report said.
Today, an increasing number of Chinese adolescents are engaging in premarital sex, in many cases with only vague knowledge of safe sex, it said.
"As the result of secretive sex education in China, most unmarried Chinese adolescents know little about the consequences of premarital sex," Chinese sexologist Li Yinhe said.
In order to break silence on sex education, the Ministry of Education issued a guideline on Monday suggesting higher education institutions set up public courses on health education to teach students about sex and reproductive health.
Talking about sex remains a taboo in Chinese culture. Some experts consider the lack of proper sex education, particularly in schools, as one of the factors leading to serious health consequences in China, such as the growing numbers of HIV infections and staggeringly high abortion rates.
"Compared to older generations in China, teenagers and their parents have more access to sexual knowledge," said Li, also a fellow with the Institute of Sociology at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
"Sex, Reproduction and Health of the Human" has been a popular selective course at Peking University for 20 years. It focuses on cultivating healthy altitudes toward sex and respect to life, and is well received by students.
"Sex education, as a required course in our life, concerns everyone's health and future, and it should be part of compulsory education," professor Yao Jinxian, who teaches the course said.
In recent years, there have been stronger voices calling for better sex education in China. Liu Wenli, a professor from Beijing Normal University, has been running a WeChat public account called "Love and Life" since 2014, offering a free subscription service on sex education information.
"Sex education is conducive to fostering young people's abilities in making resolutions, communicating and reducing risk in problems related to sex," Liu said.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)