Department of Health (DOH) Minister Yaung Chih-liang (楊志良) visited a nightclub in Taipei’s Xinyi (信義) shopping district yesterday evening to promote safe sex as part of a campaign against HIV and AIDS.
Yaung’s rare nightclub appearance came on the eve of World AIDS Day as part of his efforts to remind young people of the need to protect themselves from HIV infection.
Yang was accompanied by “Piaochung,” an HIV-infected gay male, and AIDS patients rights activists on the visit. Piaochung shared his feelings and experiences since being diagnosed with HIV in 2005 and called for an end to discrimination against HIV/AIDS patients.
Free HIV/AIDS screening tests have been offered over the week to mark World AIDS Day, a move the Centers for Disease Control hopes will encourage people to get tested for the disease that has increasingly hit Taiwan’s younger generation in recent years.
The free tests are being offered at 798 test stations nationwide until Friday, CDC Deputy Director-General Lin Ting (林頂) said. Syphilis tests would also be conducted upon request, he added.
Although the reported cases of AIDS have decreased from 1,932 in 2007 to 1,648 this year, Lin said that students are quickly becoming a major infected segment of the population.
The number of infected students, especially young people in the age bracket between 15 and 24, continue to grow at an accelerated rate, Lin said, and they now account for about 10 percent of the AIDS population in Taiwan.
People with active sex lives can take advantage of the free testing program, Lin said, and he reminded people that anonymous testing is also available in many health institutions across the nation.
Lin also urged people not to use blood donations as substitutes for screening because of the high risk of contaminated blood being used for transfusions.