Aids campaign 'must target drug addicts'

Jo Bowman

Alarm at the rising number of drug users testing positive for HIV prompted an urgent call yesterday for Aids campaigns to target addicts.

Announcing the latest Aids statistics for Hong Kong, Department of Health senior medical officer Dr Clive Chan Ching-nin said education programmes must be modified and stepped up.

He said that while sexual contact remained the most common method of HIV transmission, the rising number of people being infected by shared needles was worrying.

'Education has been done in various ways to promote the concept of [infection through] sexual contact, injecting and perinatal contact,' Dr Chan said.

'But I think the Government and the Advisory Council on Aids will have to do more on the drug users.' One intravenous drug user tested positive for HIV in the three months to September 30.

A further 39 were infected through sexual contact, most of them through heterosexual intercourse, and the cause of 10 infections could not be determined.


The number of new HIV cases was down slightly from the previous quarter's 63 cases, but significantly higher than for the same period last year, when there were 32 new HIV cases.

'Injecting drug users being infected with HIV needs attention now,' Dr Chan said.

Between 1985 and 1987, only one intravenous drug user tested positive for HIV. In the next two years, there were four.

Between 1991 and 1993, another four were infected, and there were five more cases reported between 1994 and 1996.


But since 1997, seven intravenous drug users have tested HIV-positive.

Dr Chan said methadone clinics and non-government support groups could play a key role in preventing HIV infection among drug users.