Sat, Aug 02, 2003 - Page 2 News List

Sex spurs rapid spread of AIDS

GROWING The number of people with AIDS reached a record high of 759 last year, of which one fifth were under 24 years old and nearly half were heterosexual

By Melody Chen  /  STAFF REPORTER

Representatives of the Collective of Sex Workers and Supporters working in Taipei's Hsimenting district yesterday use bananas to teach teens how to wear condoms properly.

PHOTO: SEAN CHAO, TAIPEI TIMES

The number of young people aged between 15 and 24 infected with AIDS in Taiwan doubled between 1998 and 2002, the Garden of Mercy Foundation revealed yesterday while cautioning young people against engaging in unprotected sex.

The foundation's message came two days before Chinese Valentine's Day (七夕). In 1998, 58 young people aged between 15 and 24 contracted AIDS in Taiwan. The number shot up to 136 in 2002, the foundation said.

The number of the AIDS cases in this country reached a record high of 759 last year. Young people aged between 15 and 24 represented one-fifth of the infected population, said the foundation.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), 54 students were infected with AIDS last year, with an average of five students falling victim to the epidemic every month.

The youngest victim of the disease so far is a 15-year-old homosexual boy. He is currently in his second year of junior high school, according to the CDC.

"The number of young AIDS patients is growing at an alarming rate. At present, 4,733 people in Taiwan are infected with the disease. More than 200 of them are under 19 years old," stated the foundation said.

In Taiwan, 92.2 percent of AIDS patients contracted the disease during sexual intercourse, said Lu Tsung-hsueh (呂宗學), an associate professor at Chung Shan Medical University.

"Heterosexuals comprise 45.4 percent of the patients, male homosexuals 31.2 percent and bi-sexual people 15.6 percent," Lu reported in a press conference hosted by the foundation.

Lu said drug abuse has made the spread of AIDS worse. "From January to July this year, Taiwan has seen 13 new AIDS cases. Six of them are drug abusers,"Lu said.

Lu took the opportunity to remind young people of the "ABCs" in the battle against AIDS: A for "Abstinence," B for "Be Faithful" and C for "Condoms."

The press conference featured an AIDS patient using the pseudonym of A-Bi, a homosexual in his early 30s who lost his job and his home because of the disease and who now lives at the Home of Mercy -- a shelter operated by the foundation.

Speaking to reporters by phone, A-Bi told how homosexuals' house parties have served as breeding grounds for AIDS. He often attended these "ecstasy-sex parties," (often known as ESPs) among homosexual groups in Taipei, before he was found to have the deadly virus.

"There are at least 15 regular locations for homosexuals to throw ESPs in Taipei City alone. Male homosexuals admitted into the venues have to have good looks and status," A-Bi said.

Participants in ESPs usually have higher social and economic status. An ESP venue can accommodate about 60 to 80 people. The admission fee is NT$200, A-Bi said.

"Interviews are conducted in the entrances of ESP venues to examine participants' bodies and looks. A variety of drugs are sold inside the venues. Everyone inside wears only fancy underwear," A-Bi said.

"The participants can have sex with anyone they desire. One man can have sex with up to three or four men in a single night," he continued.

A-Bi described places for sex in the ESP parties as "so dark that you could not even see your fingers."

"The floors of the rooms for sex were scattered with condoms and lubricants after the parties," he said.

This story has been viewed 4161 times.

Comments will be moderated. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned.

TOP top