Fri, Dec 02, 2011 - Page 2 News List

Taiwan’s HIV infection rate rising: group

COSTLY ENDEAVOR:Because of the growing AIDS population, the Centers for Disease Control is mulling subsidizing AIDS treatment instead of providing it for free

Staff Writer, with CNA

The nation’s HIV infection rate is on the rise, with one person diagnosed with the virus every four hours, the Taiwan Lourdes Association said.

As of Oct. 31, there were 22,491 reported cases of HIV in Taiwan, with most of the infected in the 20-to-39 age bracket, association secretary-general Paul Hsu (徐森杰) said, citing statistics from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

The number of HIV infections is growing, with an average of 180 people testing positive each month, he said. To acquaint the public with issues affecting HIV patients, the association surveyed 407 HIV-positive people nationwide in October and last month, he said.

“We found that more and more people are becoming worried about the government’s plan to stop offering free AIDS treatment,” he said.

Because of the growing number of AIDS cases in the country, the CDC has been exploring the possibility of subsidizing AIDS treatment rather than providing it free of cost as it has been doing for years.

The cost of treatment for each AIDS patient in the country is estimated at NT$30,000 (US$930) per month, which is equivalent to the average monthly salary of an office worker.

In the survey, about 45.2 percent of the respondents said they were following the government’s AIDS treatment policy closely, according to Hsu.

Other concerns mentioned were the development of a cure, maintaining good health and ways of leading a happy life, he said.

People diagnosed with HIV need a lot of support and attention from both the government and the public, Hsu said.

“With proper healthcare, persons infected with HIV can actually lead a normal life,” he said.

At a press conference on Wednesday, an HIV-positive man who identified himself as Kuan (管) said he had just returned from a four-day biking tour in China.

“I make sure I take good care of myself by keeping good hours and working out regularly,” he said. “A lot of fear originates from concern for self-protection and lack of understanding.”

“I have learned over the years to cope with my condition and hope we can gain public acceptance,” he said.

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