Patients and volunteers braved the wind and drizzle to take part in a charity walk on The Peak yesterday to raise funds for HIV and Aids sufferers.
Around 300 people took part in Aids Walk 2013, some bringing their children or dogs, and many added some colour to the event by wearing decorated masks.
The chief executive of the organiser, Society for Aids Care's Alice Chan Lai-hing, explained that the masks were meant to symbolise the difficulties patients face, such as discrimination, which she said leads many to shy away from the community.
"Many have a good chance of rehabilitating if they are on proper medication. They have a future, it's not a death sentence," Chan said.
The society hoped to raise HK$200,000 from the walk, which would go into funding support services for patients such as arranging for their medication, helping them to reintegrate into society, and giving them assistance in finding a job.
Patients face discrimination through many people not understanding how HIV is transmitted, Chan said. Many hold the misconception that infection must be due to casual sex.
But most of the society's 600 or so patients were infected in other ways, such as by their mother during pregnancy, by their husband, or through contamination of blood during transfusions.
The society also helps pregnant mothers infected with HIV.
Its nurses and social workers ensure that they are on the required medication and go through proper labour procedures.
For those who use the society's services, the chance of a local mother who is carrying HIV passing it to her baby now stands at just 2 per cent, Chan said.
HIV infections are on the rise in Hong Kong, with a 30-year high of 513 new cases recorded last year, a 17 per cent rise from 2011, according to the health department.