Despite improved sex education in schools and several high-profile publicity drives, the AIDS menace continues to thrive in Hong Kong. The 52 cases reported in the latest quarter is the largest increase since the checks were started 13 years ago. This suggests that messages about safe sex are not reaching the general public with sufficient effect. That is depressing news for the Government, which has set aside $20 million for a preventive programme that clearly is not working as it should. The statistics make it plain how AIDS has spread among the heterosexual community. Over half the 907 HIV cases in Hong Kong involve heterosexual couples. AIDS among homosexuals accounts for 271 cases. Most tragic of all are babies born with the disease. Sadly, this is another figure which looks certain to rise until it is impressed on young people before they become sexually active that all casual relationships are a risk - unless they follow guidelines taught in schools, and repeated in advertising campaigns. The real question, however, is whether the AIDS campaign is being targeted at the section of the community where it is most needed. Hong Kong has a flourishing commercial sex industry, yet it has been ignored in the battle against AIDS. The SAR could learn from Australia, which early on concentrated on containing AIDS among those in the sex industry by education and by condom distribution. As a result, not a single case of detected HIV has been contracted through the sex industry. Thailand has also aimed its propaganda at sex workers, together with the issue of free condoms in red light districts. Since then, the number of cases has dropped there. Instead of the present piecemeal approach, health experts in Hong Kong need to agree on a comprehensive programme which identifies high-risk areas, and makes them the main force of future campaigns. The recent Manila conference on AIDS revealed that the Asia-Pacific region faces the highest HIV infection rate, with cases likely to double by the year 2000. Hong Kong may not have a problem on the scale of some of its neighbours, but it cannot afford to be left behind in meeting this menace to its well-being.