Mon, Jul 19, 2004 - Page 3 News List

President labels AIDS global plague of the century

CNA , TAIPEI

Calling AIDS a global "plague of the current century," President Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) said yesterday that fighting the disease will be a long uphill battle for Taiwan and the world.

In his written message to participants at the opening of the Seventh Taipei Conference on HIV/AIDS, entitled "Working to success," Chen said that it is everybody's duty and responsibility as a member of the global village to prevent the spread of AIDS.

Chen said that the Executive Yuan established an AIDS prevention committee at the end of 2001 to arrest the spread of AIDS in the country.

The president said that the committee would continue to rally the knowledge and efforts of various sectors studying and treating the disease to consolidate the fight against AIDS.

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), which is co-sponsoring the two-day conference, more than 6,000 HIV-positive cases have been reported to date in the country over the past 20 years since Taiwan identified its first case.

Despite solid strides in the medical community's knowledge and its ability to treat the disease, the country has seen new cases of HIV/AIDS increase by 15 percent annually. It is believed that given this pace, the country will have 15,000 HIV-positive or AIDS patients by 2010, CDC officials estimate.

According to CDC tallies, in June alone 105 new HIV/AIDS cases were reported, including seven women and 96 men, as well as two foreigners.

As of June 30, according to CDC statistics, the country had 5,789 HIV/AIDS cases, involving 380 women and 5,409 men.

Noting that more than 4,800 cases have been recorded to date in the country for the last decade, CDC officials said that with the globalization of economic activities and growth in overseas investments, Taiwanese now regularly travel and do business throughout the Asia-Pacific region. Diseases such as HIV/AIDS that were initially confined to one or a handful of countries are now facts of life for all Taiwanese, the officials warned.

In terms of age groups, those aged between 20 and 29 are the most heavily infected group, accounting for about 33 percent of all those infected, followed by those aged between 30 and 39, CDC officials said. In terms of infection risk factors, the CDC officials said, sexual behavior remains the major channel for HIV/AIDS infection, adding that the number of heterosexuals infected still leads the group, followed by homosexuals and bisexuals, in that order.

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