SFH urges enhanced education on AIDS prevention (with photos)

     The Secretary for Food and Health (SFH), Dr Ko Wing-man, today (November 29) urged government departments, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) service organisations to join forces in enhancing education on AIDS prevention for the realisation of "Zero new infections", "Zero AIDS-related deaths" and "Zero discrimination".

     Dr Ko made the above appeal this afternoon at the "Getting to ZERO" World AIDS Campaign 2014 Kick-off Ceremony organised by the Red Ribbon Centre (RRC) of the Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health (DH) to echo with World AIDS Day on December 1 at the Plaza of Sha Tin Town Hall.

     "Locally, persons infected with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) are on the rise. As of the third quarter of this year, the cumulative total of HIV infections reached 6 841 since Hong Kong recorded the first case in 1984, and over 600 of them were reported in the last 12 months. To date, more than 70 per cent of additional cases this year acquired the infection via sexual transmission. Cases aged 29 or below constituted 33 per cent, rising from 27 per cent last year, including teenagers aged 19 or below. The risk of the young generation contracting HIV is significantly increasing," he said.

     "Findings of the Youth Sexuality Study on secondary school students conducted by the Family Planning Association of Hong Kong (FPAHK) in 2011 revealed that 9.8 per cent of boys and 7.4 per cent of girls had sexual experience at Secondary Seven or earlier, but their knowledge on AIDS was inadequate. Education on AIDS prevention in secondary schools is hence a top priority," Dr Ko remarked.

     Dr Ko highlighted AIDS-related sex education to secondary school students provided by various government departments and NGOs, including the DH, the Education Bureau, the FPAHK, and a number of agencies affiliated to the Hong Kong Coalition of AIDS Service Organizations (HKCASO), which have been promoting sex education by interactive and interesting means both on and off campus.

     In collaboration with the FPAHK, the RRC rolled out a programme on life skill-based AIDS education including relevant life skills, sexual health and AIDS knowledge in the current academic year with a view to strengthening junior secondary school students' skills in self-awareness, critical thinking, decision-making, interpersonal communication and negotiation in the hope of enhancing their understanding of AIDS and ways to effectively protect themselves from infection. The programme's workshop on life skills education was launched in September.

     The RRC, designated by the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) as an UNAIDS Collaborating Centre for Technical Support, has been working with various AIDS-related NGOs to launch the World AIDS Campaign 2014 entitled "Getting to ZERO" since October to tie in with World AIDS Day. An array of events, including workshops, a forum, community programmes, vigils, a photo exhibition and a carnival, have been planned to promote public awareness of AIDS and encourage acceptance and care of AIDS patients, particularly among teenagers and tertiary school students.

     World AIDS Day on December 1 every year brings together people around the world to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS and demonstrate international solidarity in the face of the pandemic.

     Attending the ceremony, the wife of the Chief Executive and the Patron of the RRC, Mrs Regina Leung, presented certificates to representatives of the HKCASO, Touch Theatre (a youth drama organisation) and two performing schools. Touch Theatre then took to the stage to present a drama entitled "Be Safe", bringing out the theme of safe sex as an effective measure to prevent HIV infection.

     Counterparts from health authorities in Shenzhen and Macau also officiated at the ceremony today. They were the Director of the Disease Control and Prevention Department of the Health and Family Planning Commission of Shenzhen Municipality, Dr Zhang Yingji, and the Commissioner of the AIDS Prevention and Control Commission of Macau, Dr Leong Iek-hou.

     Other attending guests included the Director of Health, Dr Constance Chan; the Controller of the CHP, Dr Leung Ting-hung; the Chairperson of the Hong Kong Advisory Council on AIDS, Dr Susan Fan; the Chairman of the Council for the AIDS Trust Fund, Dr Matthew Ng; the Chairman of the RRC Management Advisory Committee, Dr Richard Tan; the Chairman of the FPAHK, Ms Lina Yan; and the Consultant (Special Preventive Programme) of the CHP, Dr Wong Ka-hing.

     The public may visit the pages below for more information on AIDS and forthcoming events:

* The DH's AIDS website (www.aids.gov.hk);
* The RRC's website (www.rrc.gov.hk); and
* The Activity Calendar of the World AIDS Campaign 2014 (www.rrc.gov.hk/res/WAC2014pamphlet.pdf).

Ends/Saturday, November 29, 2014
Issued at HKT 16:54