With the arrival of students’ summer vacations, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), in partnership with the Taiwan AIDS Foundation, held an awareness-raising event at Taipei Main Station yesterday to encourage young people to adopt safe sexual practices to protect themselves from HIV.
Taking up the cause of “National HIV Testing Day,” established in the US as an annual observance to promote HIV testing, the CDC said it hopes to raise awareness among the public not only of the virus, but also of the significance of HIV testing.
CDC Director-General Chang Feng-yee (張峰義) advised young people to stay in a stable relationships with a single, regular partner and to have safe sex.
“And if that really isn’t possible, take a HIV test within three months of having unprotected sex,” Chang added.
According to statistics compiled by the centers, as of the end of last year 24,239 Taiwanese were living with HIV, with nearly 20 percent of them aged between 15 and 24.
In the past three years the number of new HIV infections among young people has been increasing at a rapid pace, with young people reporting the highest rate of new HIV infections among all age groups, accounting for 26.2 percent, 27.5 percent and 28.6 percent of reported new infections for 2010, 2011and last year respectively, the CDC said.
The data provided by the CDC also shows that of the 635 new infections reported last year by people aged between 15 and 24, 552 had engaged in male homosexual experiences, increasing from 479 in 2011 and 418 in 2010.
Ninety percent of new infections were caused by unprotected sex, both homosexual and heterosexual, the agency said, which also attributed some of the infections to drug abuse, as a person under the influence of certain drugs, such as stimulants, depressants and hallucinogens, is more likely to engage in risky behavior, including sexual contacts.
“About NT$3 billion [US$100.3 million] is spent every year on HIV and AIDS, with between 10 percent and 20 percent spent on prevention, awareness-raising campaigns and testing, while the rest is allocated to treatment,” Chang said.