AIDS killed 17,740 people in China in the first 10 months of this year, an increase of 8.6 percent over the same period last year, the Health Ministry said Wednesday.

Over the past 10 months, 34,157 new cases of AIDS were registered in China, according to figures provided by the ministry.

The Chinese government published these figures a few days before World AIDS Day on Dec. 1.

Beijing has quadrupled its spending against AIDS from $124 million in 2007 to $530 million in 2011, an investment that was praised this year by the United Nations as making China one of the five countries contributing most to the global campaign to fight the illness.

Nevertheless, AIDS is still a serious problem in the Asian giant, not only due to the number of people it affects but also because of the disinformation, lack of knowledge and stigma surrounding the disease.

A reflection of that are the cases of HIV-infected patients who have been denied treatment in hospitals out of fear of contagion.

The latest of these incidents occurred a week ago, a situation which motivated incoming Prime Minister Li Kequiang to issue an urgent call to the Health Ministry to resolve the matter.

Li also met this week with representatives of a dozen NGOs who are fighting AIDS in China, an unprecedented event in the Asian nation. EFE