Seventy-two percent of people infected with HIV under the age of 20 have sought sexual partners online at least once, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said yesterday, cautioning students, most of whom are now enjoying summer vacations, against unprotected sex and other risky behavior.
According to the CDC’s 2012 HIV report, 72 percent of people under 20 reported to be infected with HIV in Taiwan have looked for sex through the Internet, 14 percent had used illegal substances before being diagnosed with the infection and 37 percent first had sexual intercourse before the age of 15, with the earliest being at age 11.
The agency said the figures show that the average age of first sexual intercourse is going down, and that teenagers are increasingly likely to look for sex online and use illegal drugs.
According to the survey data recently published by the Taiwan Association of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 12 percent of the high-school girls have had sexual intercourse, with the average age when they first had sex being 15-and-a-half. The centers warned that young teens having sex at an early age are more likely to expose themselves to the risk of HIV infection due to lack of knowledge about self-protection.
The statistics compiled by the centers show that as of the end of last year, 19.5 percent (4,716) of the total 24,239 people with HIV (foreign nationals not included) are aged between 15 and 24, with more than 90 percent having had unprotected sex, some linked with using dating Web sites and substance abuse.
The CDC urged teenagers to avoid sex parties and risky behavior, such as having multiple sex partners, having sex with people with an unknown sexual history and taking illegal drugs, to use condoms through the whole course of a sexual act and water-based lubricants, and to exercise caution with online dating.
If exposed to unsafe sex, the agency said individuals can seek medical guidance at any of the 41 designated HIV/AIDS hospitals across the country and receive HIV-prevention drugs.