Young people urged to say no to unsafe sex in fight against AIDS (with photos)

     The Department of Health (DH) and the Family Planning Association of Hong Kong (FPAHK) today (November 19) jointly held the World AIDS Campaign 2016 Kick-off Ceremony to promote greater awareness and prevention of Human Immunodeficiency Virus/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS) among the younger generation in support of World AIDS Day, which takes place on December 1 every year.

     Under the theme "On the fast track to end AIDS", today's ceremony tied in with the Fast-Track Targets of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), namely the "90-90-90" treatment target by 2020, which calls for 90 per cent of HIV-people to know their status, 90 per cent of HIV-positive people to access treatment and 90 per cent of those on treatment to have suppressed viral loads, thus reducing the global annual number of new infections to 500 000 in 2020, and achieving zero discrimination.

     Speaking at the ceremony, the Under Secretary for Food and Health, Professor Sophia Chan, said, "In the first half of 2016, 335 new HIV infections were confirmed, with about two per day on average. We are worried as there are more and more young patients, while infections aged 29 or below have become nearly 30 per cent of all cases in recent years. Men who have sex with men (MSM), some 60 per cent of the cases, have been the majority of the newly infected.

     "The DH's surveys in recent years reveal that more than half of young MSM had unsafe sex, and drug abuse is very common, significantly increasing their risk of infection. The findings reflect that youngsters are not fully aware of AIDS and its prevention. They may not be able to decline unsafe sex requests and drugs from peers," Professor Chan added.

     To strengthen students' awareness in protecting themselves at an early stage, the DH, in collaboration with the FPAHK, is again running a programme on life skills-based HIV/AIDS education (LSBE), with interactive workshops on interpersonal communication and decision-making, for about 1 500 students in 13 secondary schools, starting from last month. The programme also involved some 1 500 students when it was first rolled out in 2014-15.

     "While non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have been focusing their concerns on young infections using creative promotion via instant messaging and social networking mobile applications, the Government has also produced online promotional videos to draw their attention and let them know the right way to seek help if necessary," Professor Chan said.

     Designated as an UNAIDS Collaborating Centre for Technical Support, the DH's Red Ribbon Centre (RRC) has been working with AIDS-related NGOs to launch the World AIDS Campaign 2016 to tie in with the World AIDS Day 2016 on December 1. In addition to LSBE in secondary schools, a condom production workshop will be held for university students. Condoms and health education materials will be distributed, while publicity by animation videos will also be promoted.

     Other officiating guests today were the Director of Health, Dr Constance Chan, and the Chairman of the FPAHK, Ms Lina Yan. AIDS experts from Guangdong, Shenzhen and Macau also attended the ceremony, namely the Director of the Division of Public Health Service of the Health and Family Planning Commission of Shenzhen Municipality, Dr Zhang Yingji; the Vice Director of the Institute of HIV/AIDS Control and Prevention of the Guangdong Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr Li Yan; and the Secretary General of the AIDS Prevention and Control Commission of Macau, Dr Lam Chong. Other attending guests included the Chairperson of the Hong Kong Advisory Council on AIDS, Dr Susan Fan; the Chairman of the Council for the AIDS Trust Fund, Dr Mathew Ng; the Chairman of the RRC Management Advisory Committee, Dr Richard Tan; and the Controller of the Centre for Health Protection of the DH, Dr Wong Ka-hing.

     The public may visit these pages for more information on HIV/AIDS: the DH's Virtual AIDS Office (, the RRC (, the AIDS Hotline website ( and the Gay Men HIV Information website (

Ends/Saturday, November 19, 2016
Issued at HKT 16:50