The danger of an HIV explosion in the homosexual population of Hong Kong has become very real
CHP chief Leung Pak-yin said the number of homosexuals being infected with the HIV virus has exceeded heterosexuals (for the first time since the early 1990s), and given the relative populations of the two groups, the future looks bleak unless positive steps are taken now.
Leung said the number of male homosexuals testing positive increased from an estimated 0.8 percent of the gay population in 2002 to 2.5 percent last year - the gay population being estimated at between 5 and 10 percent of the total population. At this rate of increase, as many as 3,000 homosexuals could be HIV positive by 2020, he said.
Compared with other Asian regions, the morbidity rate of AIDS is relatively low in Hong Kong, Leung said, but it does not mean one should relax awareness. "Although the morbidity rate is lower, we can't expect other countries to have the same rate and relax our precautions when we travel overseas," Leung said in an interview with RTHK.
He said about 60 percent of homosexuals used condoms, which was lower than other population groups.
"If this percentage can be increased to 80 percent over next two years, it could effectively stop a large scale outbreak." he said.
Meanwhile, the CHP has set up a task force with AIDS concern groups to combat the rising number of HIV cases in the local community.
According to CHP data, 89 new cases of HIV infection were recorded in the first quarter this year, a 37 percent rise over the same period last year. That brings the cumulative total of HIV infections reported since 1985 to 2,914. Another 17 people developed AIDS, bringing the cumulative total to 799.
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