Hong Kong: Gay men still highest at risk in ‘record-breaking’ HIV figures

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Hong Kong has released new figures showing a “record-breaking” number of HIV infections, with gay men still highest at risk of contracting the disease this past year.

Dr Wong Ka-hing, consultant for the Health Department’s special preventive programme, recently released the data for this year’s third quarter infection rates.

“We’ve had record-breaking numbers each quarter this year,” he said. “It’s very likely the numbers this year will surpass last year.”

He added: “It’s also the highest among the MSM (men having sex with men) community.”

In this year’s third quarter there were 153 reported new cases, split between 125 men and 28 women.

Around half of the figures were suspected to have been spread through unprotected gay or bisexual sex, a quarter through heterosexual sex, and two of the cases through drug injections.

Dr Wong said he could not confirm whether gay men were less likely to come forward to be tested because of social stigmas against homosexuality.

Earlier this month, it was found that HIV infections among gay and bisexual men living in England were also at a record high.

Professor Noel Gill, head of Public Health England’s HIV and STI department, said: “Around half of men who have sex with men recently diagnosed with HIV received their diagnosis the first time they tested, which is a strong indication that many men who should be testing are not. National HIV Testing Week gives people a great opportunity to get tested.”

In September, the deputy executive director of the United Nations’ HIV/AIDS agency said the worldwide HIV epidemic could potentially be over by 2030 – but only if infection rates among most at risk populations, such as men who have sex with men (MSM), fall substantially.