HIV infection among Taiwan's young people on the rise

PHOTO: HIV infection among Taiwan's young people on the rise

TAIPEI - HIV has become more prevalent among Taiwan's teens and young adults despite a drop in the total number of cases of infection, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said yesterday.

The number of HIV-positive cases recorded among the age group climbed to 521 last year from 451 the year before, a 13.3 per cent increase, the CDC said at an event held in Taipei to promote safe sex among young people during which more than 200 condoms were given away.

Over 90 per cent of the young carriers contracted the disease through unsafe sex, the CDC pointed out. It also found that 60 per cent of local people do not use condoms during their first sexual encounter.

"We therefore want to take this opportunity to promote the importance of using condoms among young people," CDC Deputy Director-General Shih Wen-yi said, adding that having sex without proper precautions carries the risk of being infected with HIV.

Taiwan's efforts to combat AIDS-related disease has brought the number of HIV infected cases down from a peak of 3,380 in 2005 to1,796 in 2010, Shih went on.

Citing unsafe sex as the main cause of HIV transmission, Chen Ching-hui - an obstetrics and gynecology attending physician at Taipei Medical University Hospital who attended the event - called for young people to use condoms and use them correctly when having sex.

In addition, Chen reminded young adults that using condoms is not only a way to prevent pregnancy but that more importantly, it is an effective method of preventing sexually transmitted diseases.

Meanwhile, Lucifer Chu, dubbed a local opinion leader on the Internet, also demonstrated the five steps of correctly using condoms and shared tips on carrying them without being noticed and embarrassed.

As a father, Chu also urged parents to be open-minded about their children's questions about sex. Don't think they are too young to understand, he said.