The number of new HIV cases among young people in Hong Kong has increased threefold over the last ten years, the Department of Health announced, with recent statistics showing that Hong Kong residents aged 20 to 29 make up more than 30 percent of last year’s new reported cases.
SCMP reports that the number of new patients in that age range rose from 46 in 2003 to 151 last year.
The 2003 figure was about one-fifth of the 229 new cases identified at the time. But the proportion rose to 23.3 per cent of 438 new cases in 2011, and further to 27 per cent last year.
This contrasted with the steady downward trend for those between 30 and 39 years old.
That age group made up 40.6 per cent of new HIV patients in 2003, dropping to 35.6 per cent in 2008 and then 32.7 per cent last year.
The city saw 559 new infections last year – the highest annual figure since the first case was diagnosed some 30 years ago.
It represented a 9 per cent increase on the 513 cases in 2012, bringing the total number of reported HIV cases to 6,342.
Last year this time, Xinhua reported that there were an estimated 7,000 people of student-age who were HIV-positive across China, and reports from earlier this year have shown that the number of HIV cases attributed to unsafe sex are continuing to increase.
Both in Hong Kong and across the mainland, the epidemic has been attributed mainly to the abysmal state of sex education that’s led to an alarming number of student-aged people practicing unsafe sex. A survey from last September showed that over 50 percent of sexually active, student-aged respondents admitted they didn’t use contraception the first time they had sex.
While a majority of Chinese parents have been vocal in their desire to see better sex ed across schools, to this day, open discussion of the topic remains taboo.
Concerning these recent statistics out of Hong Kong, Aids Concern chief executive Andrew Chidgey agrees: “Everyone doesn’t know quite what to do [to talk to young people about sex] and then hopes someone else will take the responsibility,” he was quoted as saying in the Post report.
“It is important to recognize that in Hong Kong, the general sexual health knowledge of the population is very limited,” he said. “One of the main reasons is that young people are hardly given education about relationships, and healthy sexual relationships.”