Group urges more HIV tests for men
A health support group says men should have more HIV check-ups after a survey showed four out of five males have never tested for the virus.
Aids Concern, a non-government body that runs Aids support and prevention programmes, interviewed 213 men in various locations around the city, including taxi stands and construction sites, between December and February and found that 81 per cent of them had never had any sexual health checks.
It advocates that sexually active men should have HIV tests at least once a year, while those who have more than one sexual partner should be checked every three months.
'Many men are conservative in thinking and are affected by old concepts. From our outreach experience, it is usually harder to persuade men than women to have sexual health checks,' said Panda Cheung Yin-mei, the group's programme director.
Of those never tested, almost half reckoned they had normal sexual relations with no symptoms and, therefore, no need for checks. A quarter said it was not necessary, and six per cent said they had no time.
Aids Concern provides free rapid tests for HIV and syphilis infections as well as counselling for men at its centres.
The survey also found that men considered high risk also overlooked the importance of check-ups.
Of the 97 interviewees who said they had more than one sex partner, 76 per cent of them said they had never done any sexual health checks, and 23 per cent said they did not use a condom the last time they had sex.
Department of Health statistics showed that 95 male and 27 female new HIV infections were reported in the first three months of this year. Since 1984, when the first case was found in Hong Kong, 4,296 males and 1,096 females were infected by HIV as of March this year.
The 122 new HIV cases recorded in the first three months of this year was the third-highest quarterly figure since 1984. It was the highest since the third quarter of 2009, when there were 123. The peak was in the third quarter of 2007, with 125 cases.
New HIV cases in the first three months of 2012, the third-highest quarterly figure since 1984, when the first case was found in Hong Kong