A total of 187 additional cases of Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infection were reported to the Centre for Health Protection (CHP) of the Department of Health (DH) in the second quarter of 2017, bringing the cumulative total of reported HIV infections to 8,799 since 1984.

In addition, 34 new cases of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) were reported in the above quarter, bringing to 51 the total number of confirmed AIDS cases in the first half of 2017 and 1,817 the total number of confirmed cases reported since 1985. Among the new cases, 68% were attributed to homosexual or bisexual contact and 18% to heterosexual contact. 

Majority of cases infected through homosexual or bisexual contact

"HIV is the cause of AIDS and without treatment about half of HIV-infected people will progress to AIDS within 10 years. However, HIV treatment prevents AIDS and significantly prolongs survival. HIV-positive people should seek specialist care as soon as possible," said Dr Kenny Chan, the Consultant (Special Preventive Programme) of the CHP. He added that sexual transmission remained the major mode of HIV transmission.

Of the 187 HIV cases, comprising 165 males and 22 females, 102 acquired the infection via homosexual or bisexual contact, 24 via heterosexual contact, one via drug injection, one via blood transfusion outside Hong Kong and one via perinatal route. The routes of transmission of the remaining 58 cases have yet to be determined due to inadequate information.

"Members of the public, particularly high-risk groups, should use a condom consistently and properly. Those with a history of unsafe sex should take an HIV antibody test early. People who inject drugs should avoid sharing needles with others and should receive methadone treatment as soon as possible," Chan noted.

The new cases were mainly reported by three major sources - public hospitals and clinics (74 cases), the DH's Social Hygiene Clinics (30 cases), and private hospitals and clinics (28 cases). Among them, 121 (65%) have already received HIV specialist services through the DH or the Hospital Authority.

In the above quarter, the most common AIDS-defining illness was Pneumocystis pneumonia, a kind of chest infection.

More than 1,000 urine specimens collected for the PRiSM programme

Since 2006, the CHP has been regularly conducting a community-based HIV Prevalence and Risk Behavioural Survey of Men who have sex with men (PRiSM). The PRiSM 2017, which targets both MSM and male-to-female transgender persons (TG women), is ongoing until end-September. MSM and TG women are recruited via websites, mobile applications, venues serving sexual minorities and AIDS organisations and asked to complete an online questionnaire on an anonymous, confidential and voluntary basis. They will also submit urine specimens at one of the 48 urine collection points across the territory for HIV testing. Cases are referred for specialist care if necessary.

The PRiSM 2017 is ongoing until end-September. Source: Screenshot of PRiSM's website
The PRiSM 2017 is ongoing until end-September. Source: Screenshot of PRiSM's website

"About 1,300 urine specimens have been collected so far," Chan announced. "We appeal to members of the MSM and TG women communities to participate in the survey and take this opportunity to receive HIV testing if they are yet to do so. They can visit the website for more information." 

Chan also reported an update on the hepatitis A outbreak among MSM. The CHP's epidemiological investigations revealed that, as of August 18, a total of 50 hepatitis A cases affecting MSM aged from 20 to 55 had been reported since September 2015, with 35 known to be HIV-positive. Among them, eight cases have been recorded since May 2017, comprising one positive and seven not known to be positive upon notification.

"Hepatitis A virus has 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," Chan said.

As of August 10, a total of 1 525 doses of hepatitis A vaccines had been administered to target MSM in the public sector to control the outbreak. MIMS

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