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Review of HIV/AIDS in 2016 and update on hepatitis A in high-risk males (with photo)
     A total of 692 additional cases of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infection were reported to the Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health (DH) in 2016, compared with 725 in 2015.

     Reviewing the HIV/Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) situation in Hong Kong at a press conference today (February 28), the Consultant (Special Preventive Programme) of the CHP, Dr Kenny Chan, said that sexual transmission remained the major mode of HIV transmission. Dr Chan stressed the importance of proper use of condoms in reducing the risk of contracting HIV.

     "HIV is the cause of AIDS and, without treatment, about half of HIV-infected people will progress to AIDS within 10 years. On the contrary, HIV treatment prevents AIDS and significantly prolongs survival," he said.

     "Members of the public with a history of unsafe sex should take an HIV antibody test early. They can call the DH's AIDS Hotline 2780 2211 for a free, anonymous and confidential HIV test. HIV-positive people should seek specialist care as soon as possible," Dr Chan added.

     Of the 692 newly reported cases, 424 acquired the infection via homosexual or bisexual contact, 145 through heterosexual contact and six through drug injection. The routes of transmission of the remaining 117 cases have yet to be determined due to inadequate information.

     In the fourth quarter of 2016, 167 new cases of HIV infection were reported, taking the cumulative total of HIV infections reported locally to 8 410 since 1984.

     Of the 167 HIV cases, 146 males and 21 females, reported in the above quarter, 94 acquired the infection via homosexual or bisexual contact and 26 via heterosexual contact. The routes of transmission of the remaining 47 cases have yet to be determined due to inadequate information.

     The new cases of the above quarter were mainly reported by three major sources: public hospitals and clinics (57 cases), the DH's Social Hygiene Clinics (32 cases), and AIDS service organisations (31 cases).

     Of the newly reported cases in the above quarter, 101 of them (60 per cent) have already received HIV specialist services at the DH or the Hospital Authority.

     In addition, 25 new cases of AIDS were reported in the above quarter, bringing to 1 766 the total number of confirmed AIDS cases reported since 1985. Among the new cases, 56 per cent were attributed to homosexual or bisexual contact and 40 per cent were related to heterosexual contact. In the above quarter, the most common AIDS-defining illness was Pneumocystis pneumonia, a kind of chest infection.

     Dr Chan also reported an update on the hepatitis A outbreak among men who have sex with men (MSM).

     He said that investigations identified five more hepatitis A cases in MSM from September 2015 to 2017 as of February 17, bringing the total to 29 affecting MSM aged from 22 to 51, with 23 known to be HIV-positive. Clinically, seven also had recent onset of sexually transmitted infections, including syphilis, gonorrhoea, chlamydia infection and HIV seroconversion.

     "Hepatitis A virus may have already spread among MSM, regardless of HIV status, in the community by sexual transmission. We again appeal to eligible MSM for vaccination in the public sector while others should consult a doctor for vaccination for personal protection," Dr Chan said.

     As of February 22, about 510 doses of hepatitis A vaccines had been administered to target MSM in the public sector to control the outbreak.

     The public may visit these pages for more information on HIV/AIDS: the DH's Virtual AIDS Office (www.aids.gov.hk), the Red Ribbon Centre (www.rrc.gov.hk), the AIDS Hotline website (www.27802211.com) and the Gay Men HIV Information website (www.21171069.com). They may also visit the Hepatitis A page of the CHP and its Viral Hepatitis Preventive Service for more information.
Ends/Tuesday, February 28, 2017
Issued at HKT 16:45
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