HIV at 30-year high with more gay men infected

Published: March 7, 2013

HIV infection is on the rise in Hong Kong, with a 30-year high of 513 new cases recorded last year, health authorities say.

The cases marked a 17 per cent rise from 2011, Dr Wong Ka-hing, consultant to the Department of Health’s special preventive programme, said yesterday.

In almost half the new cases, the virus was transmitted through homosexual contact between men.

"The increase of HIV transmission among men who have sex with men is a global trend," Wong said.

"It has been increasing in the past decade, first in Western countries, then in Asia."

Homosexual contact between men accounted for 254 of the new HIV cases – the highest number for any year since Hong Kong started records in 1984.

More than 4 per cent of gay men are estimated to have contracted HIV, compared with less than 0.1 per cent in the general population.

Although more people at risk were aware of the need to undergo check-ups, most were diagnosed at a relatively late stage, which made their treatment less effective, Wong said.

"Men who have homosexual contact have a lower awareness of using condoms, regardless of [whether or not they have] fixed partners," he said.

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