23rd February, 2016
New HIV infections in 2015 hit record high
AIDS Concern releases testing data in 2015 and urges more people at risk to test to stop the epidemic
The Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health released figures on the HIV/AIDS situation in Hong Kong in 2015 today. There were 725 new HIV infections in 2015, the highest number since records began in 1984. Please see http://www.info.gov.hk/gia/general/201602/23/P201602230231.htm for the government data.
AIDS Concern also releases data of our HIV testing services in 2015 today. 68 new cases of infection were identified at AIDS Concern, also the highest number since we began testing in 2000. AIDS Concern conducted 5251 HIV tests that came with counselling services in 2015. We were the first local non-governmental organization to provide rapid HIV testing services.
The mean age of service users tested positive in 2015 was 33. 91.97% were of Chinese ethnicity, 3.17% were Caucasians and 4.76% were non-Chinese Asians. 23.73% of those tested positive claim to have had only 0-1 sex partners in the 6 months preceding the test and 37.28% claim to have had 2-3 sex partners.
Assistant Programme Manager of AIDS Concern Kurt Wong said, ‘It is worrying the number of new HIV infections hit record high in 2015. AIDS Concern urges more people at risk to test and know one’s HIV status to stop the epidemic. When people are diagnosed and receive treatment, the virus level can be reduced to a very low level so that it is unlikely to pass HIV to someone else.
‘However, AIDS Concern testing data shows that not enough people are getting tested early for the epidemic to be beaten. 31% of the 68 people tested positive at AIDS Concern in 2015 had not been tested for more than a year and 25% were never tested.
‘AIDS Concern testing data also shows that many people do not go for an HIV test because of misconceptions and prejudice in society about HIV. Among the 1883 people who have had heterosexual contact tested at AIDS Concern in 2015, 22% had not been tested before because there was no symptom. However, HIV can have no symptom at all.
‘Furthermore, among the 1883 people who have had heterosexual contact and tested at AIDS Concern in 2015, 9% had not gone for an HIV test because of psychological barriers. From our experience, such barriers include avoiding testing even if any HIV infection may develop into AIDS because they had not known that HIV can be treated or it is embarrassing to get tested. In fact if diagnosed and treated early, people living with HIV can have a life and life expectancy similar to that of non-infected people. HIV testing is as normal as other forms of checkup.
‘Some people living with HIV that AIDS Concern knows also hope to encourage people at risk to muster up the courage and get tested.’
Correct HIV risk assessment should include these factors: (i) whether one has had unprotected sex, (ii) whether one knows the HIV status of their sexual partner(s) and (iii) whether one has multiple sex partners. Those at high risk should be tested every 3 to 6 months.
AIDS Concern will have a testing week from 25th February (Thu) to 2nd March (Wed), where people can get tested at our Health Service Centre in Jordan (Flat B, 3/F, Fu Lee Commercial Building, 14-20 Pilkem Street, Jordan) or at our mobile testing sites. The testing service is anonymous, confidential and free and comes with counselling, referral and follow-up services.
For enquiries, please call our testing hotline 2394 6677. Appointments can be made through our online booking systemhttps://test.aidsconcern.org.hk/en/appointment.
For further information, please contact
Tel: 2898 4411 / 9753 9074