Hong Kong: Annual HIV Infections Continue To Rise

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture

A total of 435 new cases of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) were reported to the Hong Kong Department of Health (DH) last year (2008), the highest annual number ever recorded.

The figure showed a 5% increase compared to the 414 reported cases in the preceding year.

Reviewing the AIDS situation in Hong Kong at a press conference today (March 3), the CHP's Consultant (Special Preventive Programme), Dr Wong Ka-hing, said that sexual transmission had continued to be the major mode of HIV spread in Hong Kong.

Of the 435 new cases, 131 acquired the infection via heterosexual exposure, 145 cases via homosexual or bisexual contact, 40 were cases of injection drug use and three were cases of blood/blood product infusion. The routes of transmission of 116 cases were undetermined due to inadequate information.

In the fourth quarter of 2008, 106 people tested positive for HIV, bringing the cumulative total of reported HIV infections to 4,047 since 1984.

Of the 106 HIV cases reported between October and December 2008, 24 acquired the infection via heterosexual contact, 40 via homosexual or bisexual contact and six through drug injection. The routes of transmission of the remaining 36 cases were undetermined due to inadequate information.

The 106 cases comprised 85 males and 21 females.


Thirty-two new cases of AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome) were reported in the fourth quarter of 2008, bringing to 1,030 the total number of confirmed AIDS cases reported since 1985. Fifty-nine per cent of the new AIDS cases were related to heterosexual contact, reflecting late diagnosis of HIV.

In this quarter, the most common AIDS defining illness was Pneumocystis Pneumonia (PCP), a kind of chest infection.

The newly diagnosed cases between October and December of 2008 were reported by four major sources: public hospitals and clinics (37), private hospitals and clinics (23), AIDS service organisations (16) and Social Hygiene Clinics (15).

Of the newly reported cases in the fourth quarter, 65 (61.3%) are under the care of HIV specialist services at the DH or the Hospital Authority.

The DH monitors the HIV/AIDS situation through a voluntary reporting system. The first cases of HIV and AIDS were reported in 1984 and 1985 respectively.

Dr Wong said members of the public with a history of unsafe sex should go for an HIV test. They could call the DH's AIDS hotline at 2780 2211 for a free, anonymous and confidential HIV test.

"They should use a condom for safer sex to reduce the risk of contracting HIV," Dr Wong said.

HIV is the cause of AIDS and, without treatment, about half of the HIV-infected people will progress to AIDS within 10 years.