Universities across the nation should promote information on AIDS prevention and allow the sale of condoms on campus, Greater Tainan Deputy Mayor Yen Chun-tso (顏純左) said at a Cabinet meeting on Thursday, citing concerns over the increasing number of people contracting the virus.
In response, Executive Yuan spokesperson Cheng Li-wun (鄭麗文) quoted Minister of Education Chiang Wei-ling (蔣偉寧) as saying that out of respect for autonomy, the ministry could not order them to comply with Yen’s suggestion, it could only encourage them to do so.
According to information from the Greater Tainan Government’s Health Bureau, 1,193 cases of AIDS have been recorded in the municipality from 1992 to now.
Bureau officials said the number of AIDS cases in Greater Tainan has grown annually by triple-digits since 1996, adding that the majority of infections were the result of unsafe sexual conduct.
Out of the 142 patients infected last year, only 5 contracted the disease from intravenous injections or other reasons, while 132 contacted the disease from sexual intercourse, bureau officials said.
The bureau also said that statistics showed that the age of AIDS patients was dropping, adding that the alarming figures in Greater Tainan are just a small representation of a nationwide problem.
Polls by the Department of Health on the top 10 causes of death recently listed AIDS as a primary factor in the deaths of 15-to-24-year-olds for the first time.
The department also confirmed that the amount of AIDS patients across the nation was growing.
As of last month, the department had recorded a total of 26,050 AIDS patients nationwide, 90 percent of which contracted the disease through unsafe sexual practices.
The Greater Tainan Government said it is in the process of negotiating with universities about the possibility of installing automatic vending machines for condoms.
National Cheng Kung University in Greater Tainan has taken the lead by installing two machines on its campus.
While many people assume that church-founded schools would be against allowing the sale of condoms in vending machines on campus, Taipei’s Soochow University — which was founded by Catholics — said that convenience stores on campus already offer prophylactics and that it was the school’s policy to not interfere in such matters.
Additional reporting by Meng Ching-tzu, Chen Ping-hung and Chen Yi-ching