Tue, Jul 17, 2012 - Page 5 News List

DOH to redouble efforts to educate people about HIV

Staff writer, with CNA

In Taiwan, 2,000 new HIV cases are reported every year, with 80 percent of them stemming from male homosexual intercourse, statistics compiled by the health department showed.

Gay men account for the majority of reported HIV cases in Taiwan, said Department of Health (DOH) Minister Chiu Wen-ta (邱文達).

Chiu said there is a downward trend in the age of gay men with HIV, and since Taiwan is one of the few countries that fully subsidizes HIV and AIDS treatment, this is taking up a large amount of medical resources.

From 1984 to last month, the number of people infected with HIV has reached 23,081, with unprotected sex among gay men being the major path of transmission, accounting for 40.37 percent of all cases.

The second-most common way to contract HIV is by intravenous drug use, which accounts for 28.8 percent of cases, with sexual relations between heterosexuals accounting for 20.87 percent, according to Centers for Disease Control (CDC) statistics.

About 11,000 to 12,000 of the 23,081 people infected with the disease receive treatment, center Director-General Chang Feng-yee (張峰義) said.

Treating an HIV patient costs NT$300,000 (US$9,995) per year, which amounts to NT$3 billion for all patients annually. Since HIV is a chronic disease that requires long-term medication, its treatment adds to the country’s financial burden, Chang said.

Chang said the CDC would be working with homosexual groups to promote the importance of prevention and screening, and strive to improve anonymous testing.

Ko Nai-ying (柯乃熒), a professor of National Cheng Kung University, said that much of the information online about HIV prevention is misleading and inaccurate. Ko suggested setting up a special Web site especially targeted at homosexual groups to provide better information about HIV prevention.

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