The New Taipei City Government’s Public Health Department yesterday said that almost 90 percent of AIDS/HIV cases reported in the municipality stem from unprotected sex, including the infection of a 16-year-old high-school freshman, who is by far the city’s youngest patient.
According to department senior specialist Lee Chia-chi (李佳琪), as of last month, there were 6,406 people diagnosed with AIDS in New Taipei City. However, the number of new AIDS patients per year in the 15-to-24 age group has dropped for the first time in five years, from 171 in 2012 to 139 last year, Lee added.
“Unsafe sex is what led to HIV infection for more than 90 percent of people with AIDS aged between 15 and 24, while the number of people being infected from shared intravenous needle use fell to zero last year,” Lee said.
Lee said the 16-year-old, nicknamed A-chiang (阿強), was a smartphone user who had been meeting people online via an app.
“One day during the summer vacation before going to senior-high school, A-chiang had a sudden high fever. He turned to several doctors and took the medicines that they prescribed as scheduled, but the symptom did not abate,” Lee said.
Lee said only after A-chiang was rushed to an emergency care unit at a large hospital to treat his worsening condition was he diagnosed with AIDS.
Far Eastern Memorial Hospital AIDS case manager Lee Hsing-chuan (李幸娟) said the growing number of young people using social networking sites or so-called “speed-friending” applications in recent years has indirectly driven up the number of people in the 15-to-24 age group being diagnosed with the sexually transmitted disease.
In efforts to promote HIV prevention among students, Lee said the department is adopting three measures: Introducing trained AIDS prevention instructors to campuses; setting up a Facebook page to spread knowledge of protection from AIDS to young people; and joining forces with civil groups in providing confidential AIDS screening services.
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