New HIV infection rates among men who have sex with men, which accounted for 254 of 513 new cases in 2012, is the highest number for any year since Hong Kong started records in 1984, according to official records released this month.
Of the 513 new cases, 254 acquired the infection via homosexual or bisexual exposure and 126 via heterosexual contact. There were seven cases of drug injection, one case of perinatal transmission and one case via blood/blood product transmission occurring outside Hong Kong. The routes of transmission of 124 cases had yet to be determined due to inadequate information.
Source: Hong Kong's Department of Health
In the fourth quarter of 2012, a total of 120 people tested positive for HIV, taking the cumulative total of reported HIV infections to 5,783 since 1984. The 120 cases comprised 93 males and 27 females.
Of the 120 HIV cases reported in the fourth quarter last year, 53 acquired the infection via homosexual or bisexual contact, 26 via heterosexual contact, three through drug injection and one via perinatal route. The routes of transmission of the remaining 37 cases had yet to be determined due to inadequate information.
Dr Wong Ka-hing, consultant to the Department of Health's special preventive programme, was quoted as saying in the South China Morning Post: "The increase of HIV transmission among men who have sex with men is a global trend."
"It has been increasing in the past decade, first in Western countries, then in Asia."
The report stated that 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.
According to a factsheet published by the Department of Health’s Centre for Health Protection, the third HIV Prevalence and Risk Behavioural Survey of Men who have sex with men in Hong Kong conducted from July 2011 to February 2012 revealed a HIV prevalence of 4.08% in the venue-based survey. The first and second surveys conducted in 2006 and 2008 revealed a HIV prevalence of 4.05% and 4.31% respectively.
Alice Chan Lai-hing, chief executive of the Society for Aids Care, said in the Post report that while men who have sex with men are increasingly aware of the need to get tested for HIV, more education and resources for support services is needed.
Generally, sexually active MSM are advised to undergo regular testing for HIV every three to 12 months.
AIDS Concern's Red Ribbon Angel Campaign 2013 is marking its 11th anniversary this March. Leading bars, clubs, restaurants, cafes and lifestyle retailers are joining us again this year as Angel Outlets to help build a healthy community. Angel Outlets will help raise funds for AIDS Concern and deliver the safe sex message to the public from 1 to 31 March.