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6 Jun 2007

sharp rise in new HIV infections among MSM in hong kong

Reporting an increase in new HIV infections in the first quarter this year among gay men in Hong Kong, a government consultant also warned that prevalence of the disease in this group could hit 30 percent by 2020 if left to its own devices. HIV prevalence in this group is estimated at four percent now.

Health authorities last week reported 91 new HIV infections in the first quarter of 2007, up from 89 in the same period in 2006. Of those, 35 were in men who had had sex with other men, an increase from 29 new infections in the first quarter of 2006 and 19 in the same period of 2005.

A poster promoting safe sex in Hong Kong
"If there is no intervention, HIV-infected men who have sex with men could hit 15,000 by 2020 in Hong Kong, that would be a prevalence of 30 percent," said Wong Ka-hing, a consultant with the Health Department.

"New HIV infections are increasing among men who have sex with men everywhere. Some of that is of a cross-border nature because of gay parties," said Loretta Wong, who heads Hong Kong's Aids Concern.

"Some are under the influence of drugs and they don't even remember if they used condoms. People tend to be less careful when they are overseas."

Of concern to Hong Kong health authorities and AIDS groups is one cluster of new infections which ballooned from 34 men last September to 53 by March while a smaller cluster in Hong Kong grew less rapidly, from 12 men last September to 13 by March.

"Genetically, viruses isolated from them are very similar. From genetic sequencing, we determined they were all together (passed the virus to one another)," Wong said.

He has also urged people with a history of unprotected sex to have HIV tests, saying the findings suggested "rapid local HIV transmission" among gay men in the city with a popualtion of seven million.

The government has yet to find out how the virus spread in the bigger cluster, or if there is a "super-spreader" involved.

Wong said cited greater numbers of homosexual men using the Internet seeking sex partners.

"We did a study recently and found that people are looking for sex partners on the Internet but we do not know if this cluster was formed that way," consultant Wong said, adding that the government was trying to promote safe sex via the Internet.

AIDS Concern's Wong cautioned against losing sight of other high-risk groups, such as heterosexual men with multiple sex partners, the commercial sex industry and intravenous drug users.

"There are many things we need to do to prevent this from escalating further," she said.

The detection of clusters of cases among gay men in Hong Kong follows regional findings that the proportion of gay men in Asia newly infected with HIV has risen sharply in recent years.

According to a TREAT Asia (Therapeutics Research, Education, and AIDS Training in Asia) report released in August 2006, high prevalence rates are observed in Thailand (28 percent), Nepal (four percent), Taiwan (eight percent), Vietnam (eight percent) and Cambodia (14 percent). MSM make up a substantial portion of new HIV infections in South Korea and Singapore.

Experts would consider any high-risk group as having a "concentrated epidemic" once prevalence reaches five percent.

Hong Kong

Reader's Comments

1. 2007-06-06 21:58  
onggo librawan

be safe , and make sure both healthy
2. 2007-06-06 23:56  
Wong Ka-hing, a consultant with the HK Health Department says they've done a survey recently and discovered that people are looking for sex partners on the internet. REALLY ??What a staggeringly naiive thing to say. Duh ! Which is why the scare tactics -- saying the prevalence of HIV among HK gay men could rise to 30% by 2020 -- IS ALSO SILLY. This is not to say that guys shouldn't protect themselves and their partners with condoms -- of course, they should. But Mr Wong hardly seems informed enough to help.
3. 2007-06-07 10:00  
Sex parties again! Well, I never been to a sex party before as no one ever invite me ...hehe..wat to do...

Anyway,from the experiences of my more attractive sistas, there are drugs involve in such parties and it is difficult to have a clear judgement to control what is happening in such parties which might cause this high rate of unprotected sex.

I can't help wondering , if there is an organizer for such parties and someone who pass V and E around, (ahemm...not tat I am against such parties or anything)...why not there is someone from Aids NGOs to be invited to such party to pass our condom and lube...in such way, we can do wat we like and someone there to make sure we do it safe...hehehe... I guess I am trying to find way to get invite to such parties...but being the condom lube boy....HAHAHAHA
4. 2007-06-10 10:54  
It doesn't matter WHERE you look for or find sex, ie internet, saunas, clubs etc), if you don't practise safe sex, you're playing Russian Roulette, sooner or later you will catch HIV, then AIDs and then die. A great deal of the spread of HIV/AIDs is through sheer ignorance. This is compounded by the fact that wearing a condom doesn't "feel" as good to some guys, particularly those who are circumcised (or in some cases virtually no "feeling" at all), or misguided macho beliefs that if you use a condom, you're a "woosie". Again, plain ignorance. Teenagers need to be taught safe sex MUCH earlier (ie puberty). It's also naieve to think that teens are going to wait for the legal age of consent in your various countries before having sex: try age 13???? (And that age is reflective of the World, not any particular country, or culture). As soon as they know what their willy's can do, theyre gonna use them - it's human nature. As a westrerner, I too am extremely concerned that many of the young (and not so young) Asian and overseas immigrants and visitors I meet here cannot even talk about sex comfortably, let alone understand or have any correct knowledge about safe sex practises. They just "do" it. There is also the equally miguided belief that todays pharmaceutical drugs will "fix" the problem and so it will be "OK". I mean check out the memberships here in FRIDAE; how many have checked the "safe-sex" button? Nowhere near enough.
5. 2007-06-12 22:49  
Think of the ways that are safe and unsafe. Think of the reasons why it is safe and unsafe before anything else. Think about the consequences of "If" as well. Protect yourself, your friends and family.
6. 2007-06-13 15:37  

Recently I chatted with people in a chatroom from Sydney region on gay.com. I realised very soon that almost everyone there in the open chatroom was actually gang up on someone and writing nasty messages to him in public chatroom (where everyone there in the chatroom can also read the messages that being sent). They did that because of this person has revealed himself to everyone there in the chatroom that he prefers unsafe sex.

It is not that I encourage or I am being supportive to unprotected sex. But I am very annoyed by those people behaviours. Anyway they wrote messages like 'someone here is HIV positive' (which I believe that is not even proved, even if he is HIV positive, does it mean that he is not allow to have sex at all in his life?), 'someone here deserved to be infected by HIV' and etc. Which it clearly shows how they can not tolerate at all to other person's different lifestyle. Fair enough if he found someone, who likes to do it unsafe with him, it is really their own business. Why should we attack them with nasty words? Shouldn't we have learned enough lessons from the homophobic that not to despise the others just because they are different?

I know that HIV is a very nasty disease and it can make one life so much tougher. But throwing out words to attack someone by saying that he deserved to be infected just because he performed unsafe sex. This is completely non sense to me. If they think so, do they think too that a pretty woman deserved to be raped if she wore sexy clothes in the public or someone deserved to be killed in a car crash if they didn't wear the seat belt? To be raped, killed in the car crash or infected by the disease is truely unfortunate. Everyone has made mistake or done stupid things in their life, whether it be the follies of youth, one too many beers or too many pills. Most of us get a way with it. For those who don't, they deserve our sympathy, not our preaching. Please be sensible people, your fears towards the widespread of HIV disease in your community have grown so big that you will simply use nasty words to attack people if one does not assimilate to your thought. If you know, words can kill too....
7. 2007-06-26 23:05  
TIME BOMB: There is a tragic and unbelievably low level of AIDS awarness in Hong Kong - a city that calls itself First World, educated and civilized.

How many people must suffer and die before the authorities - government, universities and schools - wake up to their responsibilities?

Which public figure needs to show the ravages caused by AIDS before the media wake up?

Who in your family needs to become HIV+ before you do something?

Ignorance is death: AIDS feeds on ignorance.

8. 2008-07-30 18:04  
siewmun you recommending tolerance of random barebacking shows the safe sex message isnt getting through. Do you realise HIV/AIDS is actually incurable, and you will be more unlucky with HIV if you already caught other STDs from earlier unsafe sex. You will probably die before an effective cure is widely available, and you will infect more people while you (and the friends you infected) wait to die.

Safe sex prevents a contagious disease turning into an epidemic. If you let yourself or your friends get barebacked, why invite disaster and then go on to infect others? Safe sex improves your chance of keeping any kind of healthy lifestyle. Survival is more than just a lifestyle.

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