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11 Mar 2009

New HIV cases hit record high in Hong Kong

New infection cases among MSMs, however, saw a drop from 168 in 2007 to 145 in 2008 - the first drop since 2003.

Hong Kong recorded its highest-ever number of HIV infections in a single year - 435 new HIV cases in 2008 - since 1984 when it was first recorded. The figure marks a five percent increase from the 414 cases reported in 2007 - an 11 percent increase over 2006's 373 new HIV cases.

Of the new cases in 2008, 145 resulted from homosexual relations, 131 from heterosexual contact, 40 from intravenous drug use and three from blood infusion, the Department of Health announced last week.

Despite the record levels last year, new infection cases among MSMs saw a drop from 168 in 2007 to 145 in 2008 - the first drop since 2003. (See chart above; source: info.gov.hk)

While it's a "good sign," AIDS Concern chief executive Loretta Wong told Fridae that "it's too early to draw any conclusion from the figures."

As for the record number of new HIV cases last year, Wong said that it might be due to more people taking HIV test last year and/or that "consistent condom use is not high enough in the high risk communities, that more people are getting test who are HIV positive."

She added that the current high figures may reflect the "insufficient" prevention effort in the last few years. "What we see now could indicate a low programme coverage and people were not accessing the services."

Calling the 2008 figures "alarming and worrying," she stressed that AIDS Concern, which provides AIDS prevention services, adopts a "sexual health promotion" approach to address HIV issue, which takes a more "holistic perspective than just simply on HIV only."

Wong called on the HKSAR government to "perceive the provision of funding as an 'investment' to the health of Hong Kong people." She stressed that comprehensive programmes that feature a combination of interventions or activities that can address the MSM and HIV issues such as distribution of condoms and lube, counselling and testing, peer education, and outreach activities are needed.

Last week, the organisation's Flying High, Landing Safe programme came under fire from Wong Sing Chi (黃成智), a Legislative Councillor, who organised a press conference on Mar 6 attacking the AIDS Trust Fund for funding a website "which promoted drug use."

Wong had strongly opposed the Government's proposal to amend the Domestic Violence Ordinance to cover same-sex cohabitants.

The highnsafe.com web site, which has been taken offline since the project ended in January, is targeted at men who have sex with men (MSM) who are using or contemplating to use drugs.

In response, AIDS Concern said in a statement that it was not their intention to promote drug use and the web site is "designed based on the harm reduction theory, which involves a range of non-judgmental strategies and approaches to provide the knowledge, skills, resources and supports to be safer and healthier."

Hong Kong

Reader's Comments

1. 2009-03-11 19:57  
It's amazing that in this day and age some people can put religious or political dogma before saving or improving lives. Is that what's happening in HK?

Just recently a nine year old girl in Brazil, who had been raped by her stepfather and so was pregnant with twins, had to have an abortion to save her life. The Church has excommunicated the doctors who saved her life, and her mother for consenting, but not the man who raped the girl as his act is considered a lesser sin.

All this doesn't seem a very Christian attitude to me.




2. 2009-03-12 03:15  
What the fuck does this comment have to do with article above, seriously, some people just need to rant and rave anywhere since no one will listen to them in real life.
Comment #3 was deleted by its author
Comment #4 was deleted by its author
5. 2009-03-12 06:53  
I still think it comes down to preferences.... most of the public is aware of the risk factors, yet choose to look past them.

In my early years of gay sexual activity I was hyper vigiilant about safe sex, but found as time went on I was a bit more open to natural sex practices without a barrier/ protection product.

I know when i was last in HK not one guy objected to playing without a condom.... including myself. I know I have been fortunate,e ven lucky and while I might ascribe it to choosing my men carefully, I know and understand there is a risk, as do they, but our desires for close hot connections often supersedes wisdom

6. 2009-03-12 09:50  
Use Condom People!!! What you gonna loose?
Comment #7 was deleted by its author
8. 2009-03-12 11:14  
I think the crux of the problem lies in Hong Kong society's reluctance to confront it head-on. Despite its affluence & cosmopolitan envirornment it is still by & large a very conformist, conservative Confucian society. Now don't get me wrong-I'm certainly not anti-Chinese or anti-Asian- I'm Asian & consider myself part-Chinese too. Besides, Confucian teachings are certainly not without its merits- society before self, respect for the elderly are definately noble & worthwhile virtues we should all aspire to.
But what couldn't be ignored is the fact that sex in general, let alone gay sex, is considered taboo, 'dirty' & often swept under the carpet in conservative households.
Does that deter the young? Ans: NO
They are rebellious, they re energetic, they are bold...but sadly they are susceptible to external influences too. Imagine a sex-starved, hormone crazed teenager suddenly discovering a wild possibility of sex,sex,sex...the effect is a lot like putting a spread of gourmet dishes in front of a refugee- naturally he or she will over-indulge!
And usually not bother to check what the contents are made of. Add to that malicious or perverse people who exploit common-public sentiments like 'Homos spread Aids, or 'Pretty girls sre sluts' etc, under the guise of religion- or whatever they deem influential- for their own selfish benefit This further confuses young gay people, causing them to be even more withdrawn & reluctant when discussing sex education- & what you get is a deadly time-bomb just waiting to explode. Comprende?
9. 2009-03-12 13:08  
Many people are surprised to learn that there is no such thing as a test for AIDS. The tests popularly referred to as "AIDS tests" do not identify or diagnose AIDS and cannot detect HIV, the virus claimed to cause AIDS. The ELISA and Western Blot tests commonly used to diagnose HIV infection detect only interactions between proteins and antibodies thought to be specific for HIV -- they do not detect HIV itself. And contrary to popular belief, newer "viral load" tests do not measure levels of actual virus in the blood.

All HIV antibody tests are highly inaccurate. One reason for the tests' tremendous inaccuracy is that a variety of viruses, bacteria and other antigens can cause the immune system to make antibodies that also react with HIV. When the antibodies produced in response to these other infections and antigens react with HIV proteins, a positive result is registered. Many antibodies found in normal, healthy, HIV-free people can cause a positive reading on HIV antibody tests. (23) Since the antibody production generated by a number of common viral infections can continue for years after the immune system has defeated a virus -- and even for an entire lifetime -- people never exposed to HIV can have consistent false positive reactions on HIV tests for years or for their entire lives.

The above is an extract from the section on "Questioning the tests" at http://www.aliveandwell.org/ .......people are not told this information and consequently we still see these reports quoting figures that are really irrelevant...I have no doubt that you mean well with your article and I don't mean to be offensive......but it's about time these things were questioned. I challenge Fridae to post this information.
Comment #10 was deleted by its author
11. 2009-03-12 15:48  
Aussiebushie, thanks for the valuable info...that helps. And what's with vandtboy (Post #2)???
Are u not you guilty of it yourself? lol...
If you take the time to understand steveuk's words, you'll see that he's in fact highlighting a very serious problem facing some religious communities, yet instead of clearing their own backyard they tried imposing arbitrary moral standards on gays to ensure we be as miserable as humanly possible. The recent refusal of granting same-sex partners equal protection fr domestic violence by some self-styled "Christian' moralists in HK are a perfect example. Now that there's an apparent rise in HIV cases amongst MSMs you can bet yr last dollar they are going to use it to further justify their toffeenosed attitude.. Just wait & see.
Thankfully poster #6 Aussiebushie provided info that shed some light on the reality behind HIV tests.
I agree with him: we should do further research & reports into this, not jump into unhealthy conclusions nor rely on pop-culture media for guidance.
12. 2009-03-12 16:35  
well, i am sure the same scenerio is the same for many more cities such as Taipei, Singapore or Kuala Lumpur.

Don't you realize that at the same time the rate increased, the frequenzy of ppls tends to go into chem sex goes up since 2005.

well, no one to blame by ourselves rite.

how many home party, orgy session, chem sex fun and cocktail buffets that HKongies enjoys.........

indirectly our lifestyle is link to this HIV rate.
13. 2009-03-12 17:20  
re 'Kuman10127' post #3 ... I absolutely do not believe what you wrote.
What are you thinking ? Are you mad ?
You are definately irresponsible, and a gay person of your age should know better.

I'm shocked to say the least.
Comment #14 was deleted by its author
15. 2009-03-12 18:37  
Thanks Bains (post 7) ; I guess either my post wasn't clear enough, or "vandtboy" (post 2 ) didn't read the article all the way through. The politician who is referred to in the latter part of the article as trying to put a stop to the anti-AIDS initiatives of the NGO, is a conservative "Christian" politician in HK, who appears to also believe that safer sex initiatives encourage promiscuity, if you look at his website.

My own belief, and the point I was making, is that this sort of blind adherence to dogma causes suffering and is costing lives, not only on the AIDS front in HK, but as can also be seen in the case of the 9 year old girl in Brazil. To some people, saving lives seems to be a secondary consideration to their "moral" stand; this stand, to me, is totally immoral.

As for "vandtboy's" personal attack; going by this, and his previous generally abusive (and consequently ironic) post about behaviour on parades, I think you're right Bains, and it looks like he may simply be projecting his own issues, a phenomenon explained by Pheramones.
16. 2009-03-12 19:34  
Post #6 Aussiebushie says "...it's about time these things were questioned. I challenge Fridae to post this information."

Good idea. This whole denial around HIV is new to me and I'd like to know more. I prefer to trust the scientists though. Prior to 1996 I knew over 20 people who had died of AIDS related illnesses. It was a traumatic time. After combination therapy was then introduced, the only one I personally know who has died, did so because he was afraid to get tested in the country where he lived, and was unaware of his condition until it was too late.

There's an article called " HIV denial in the Internet Era" which criticises the organisation that Aussiebushie provides the link to. The article is here:

http://www.scientistlive.com/European-Science-News/Medical/HIV_Denial_in_the_Internet_Era/19698/#

If If the link doesn't work, it's at scientistlive.com/European-Science-News/Medical/HIV_Denial_in_the_Internet_Era/19698/#
17. 2009-03-12 19:50  
(contd from post below) On page 2 the article states [about the org that Aussiebushie links to] :

"One of the prominent HIV denial groups currently is Christine Maggiore's "Alive and Well" (formerly "HEAL," Health Education AIDS Liaison) (http://www.aliveandwell.org/). Maggiore's life story is at the center of this group. Diagnosed with HIV in 1992, Maggiore claims she has since been symptom-free for the past 14 years without the use of antiretroviral drugs, including protease inhibitors [10]. She has risen to prominence, and been embroiled in controversy, in recent years after giving birth to and openly breast-feeding her two children, Charles and Eliza Jane. She had neither child tested for HIV, and did not take antiretroviral medication during her pregnancy or subsequent breast-feeding [11]. Eliza Jane died in September 2005 of HIV-related pneumonia [12], though Maggiore remains unconvinced that HIV had any role in her daughter's death [13], and continues to preach her message to other HIV-positive mothers."
Comment #18 was deleted by its author
19. 2009-03-12 21:47  
PS to the post below:

Christine Maggiore herself died age 52 in 2008 of pneumonia, one of the prime causes of death in people with AIDS.

I think the best approach is prevention: always use a condom and play safely. If you play around, get tested regularly.

20. 2009-03-12 22:55  
as i have mentioned, fridae is just concerned about negative newsd: how the church bash gay with their doctrines and how hiv cases rise on msm. Apart from such negative news, there is no more good news. Away with me fridae editors!! There are some exgay fundies crept into fridae as editors to spread bad report about homosexuals! Shame shame shame!
Comment #21 was deleted by its author
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26. 2009-03-15 18:00  
What is going on ?? HIV is the most dire issue affecting us and not many of us seem interested. And jammyboi, you are so vocal. Where are you now ??? Why are not not putting your point of views here ???

Post #6 Aussiebushie posted a bunch of rubbish. You seem to suggest that the rise in HIV cases is not accurate as the testing is subjective. Also, I didn't get a chance to really digest the hyperlink till today. Under "If You are tested positive" it talks of "Options for Healing and Wellness". I have many friends who are living with HIV and had held the hands of few who didn't make it. You will not believe the stories of those whose CD4 cells went to about 50 and managed to survive, not from that stupid hyperlink but from months in hospital and HAART regiments. After 12 months in HAART, the CD4 cells went back to normal and Viral load went to undetectable. Your preaching of "alternative" cure is totally irresponsible.

Two days back, I talked to someone I know who was tested positive. And he talked of alternative healing, now I know where he gets this view from.

Is it so hard to educate us gays on HIV and it's prevention ?? Are we nothing but a bunch ofdumb blonds ??

Long ago in Singapore, another Acronym for AIDS is "AhQuah Is Dying Soon". It is very sad, but it seems that it is a reality.

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