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HK Reports Record Increase of HIV Cases in 2005
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A record 313 HIV infection cases were reported in Hong Kong in 2005, an increase of 17 percent over the previous year and also the city's highest ever annual growth since 1984, the Department of Health said on Tuesday.

Reviewing the AIDS situation in Hong Kong at a press conference, the department's Senior Medical Officer Raymond Ho Lei-ming said sexual transmission still remained the major mode of HIV spread inHong Kong, accounting for 201 cases of the newly reported HIV infections, or about 64 percent.

"We are concerned over the trend of rapid increase of HIV casesin our city," Ho said, adding the chances for people to contract HIV/AIDS are still very small in Hong Kong.

"But we should not let down our guard," he said.

The newly recorded 313 HIV cases raised Hong Kong's latest cumulative HIV cases to 2,825 since 1984 when it first reported its HIV case.

Of the 313 cases, 105 were infected through heterosexual exposure, 96 involved in homosexual or bisexual contact, 25 through injected drug use, four through blood or blood-product infusions and two were mother-to-child cases, according to the department's statistics.

"We need to pay attention to such infection increase between homosexual sexual contact," Ho said, citing a 27.5 percent in 2005 from 20 percent on average.

The routes of transmission of the remaining 81 cases last year were undetermined due to inadequate information, he added.

According to the department's latest information and data on HIV/AIDS, which are released on a quarterly basis, 64 new AIDS patients were reported in 2005, bringing the total number of confirmed AIDS cases to 782 since 1985.

Ho said the department lacked the exact statistics of the deaths from AIDS but argued that introduction of cocktail treatment the rapies in 1997 to Hong Kong had greatly improved the HIV carriers' health situation.

Of the newly reported HIV cases in 2005, 74 percent have received care at the department's HIV Specialist Services or the Hospital Authority where effective anti-retroviral treatment was offered according to clinical indication.

The department monitors the HIV/AIDS situation through a voluntary reporting system.

Ho said people could request free, anonymous and confidential HIV counseling by calling the AIDS hotline, 852 2780 2211. HIV antibody testing may also be arranged as appropriate through this hotline.

He called on Hong Kong citizens to take necessary preventive measures like using a condom for safer sex, taking methadone instead of drugs and blood testing to reduce the chances of getting HIV/AIDS infected.

(Xinhua News Agency February 15, 2006)

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