HIV infections continue to rise by 15% each year, DOH says

TAIPEI, Taiwan, The China Post Staff

The number of Taiwan people infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, has surpassed 6,000 over the past two decades, according to statistics released by the Department of Health (DOH) yesterday. The tally has been increasing around 15 percent each year, and is expected to more than double to reach the 15,000 mark by 2011, which will incur an economic loss of US$1.6 billion.

Combat against AIDS is a grueling effort that will permit not even the slightest easing of attention, President Chen Shui-bian said in a written speech delivered to a two-day AIDS seminar beginning yesterday.

“The number of people contracting (HIV) and dying of AIDS has grown rapidly since AIDS was first discovered in the 20th century, seriously threatening human beings’ survival,” Chen said.

He added, “as part of this global village, we all share the responsibility and duty to prevent AIDS.” The DOH report said in June, for example, Taiwan found 105 new HIV-positive cases, 96 of whom are male while seven female.

To date, men account for 93.44 percent of Taiwan’s total HIV positives, and women 6.56 percent, the health department said.

Officials at the Center for Disease Control said sexual behavior remains the main course of HIV transmission, responsible for more than 80 percent of the infections.

The growing popularity of Internet, a hot bed of one-night-stands and drug abuse, which tempt people to have unprotected sex, suggest the HIV/AIDS population will grow even faster, the center said.