Number of new HIV cases hits two-year high

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 30 November, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 30 November, 2011, 12:00am


The number of new HIV cases in Hong Kong hit a two-year high in the July-September quarter, with homosexual and bisexual activity significant factors in the infections, the Department of Health said yesterday.

It registered 113 new HIV cases, the most since the same period in 2009, when there were 123 cases, said special preventive programme consultant Dr Wong Ka-hing.

He expects that this year's total of infected cases will exceed last year's figure of 389, and possibly even the total for 2009. There were 317 new cases in the first nine months of this year, exceeding the 287 cases recorded in the same period last year.

He said 43 of the new cases resulted from homosexual or bisexual contact and all were male.

Twenty-five resulted from heterosexual relations and one from drug injection.

The causes of the remaining 43 cases were not known, Wong said.

Of the 113 newly infected, 93 are men and 20 women.

Wong said the infection rate in the male homosexual population is 4 per cent, compared with 0.1 per cent for the general population.

He stressed the importance of using condoms to reduce the risk of HIV infection, and of receiving treatment once infected.

'HIV is the cause of Aids and, without treatment, half of the HIV- infected people will progress to Aids within 10 years,' he said.

The city registered 20 new cases of Aids in the third quarter.

The infection rate among injecting drug users remains low, at around 0.6 per cent,

Wong said there was concern that coverage of HIV screening for drug users through methadone treatment centres had dropped almost 10 per cent, to around 70 per cent, in recent years.

Previous outbreaks among drug users elsewhere, such as incidents in the previous decade in Macau and Taiwan, had seen exponential increases in infections.

Wong urged people with a history of unprotected sex to call the Department of Health Aids hotline, 2780 2211, for a free, anonymous and confidential HIV test.

To mark World Aids Day tomorrow, the Tsim Sha Tsui clock tower and the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts building will be spotlighted in red.