07/13/2013, 00.00
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Taipei launches the alarm: increasingly young people at-risk of AIDS

by Xin Yage
The government publishes data on new HIV infections, which have tripled in 10 years. Although the absolute numbers remain low, fortunately, civil society and the Church are launching the "zero tolerance" towards risk behaviour.

Taipei (AsiaNews) - despite the absolute numbers being low, the data submitted by the Taiwanese Government about the spread of AIDS on the island have created alarm, especially on account of the heigtened number of young people increasingly at risk. In fact, statistics show that the highest number of infected persons is among those ranging from 20 to 29 years of age.

Presenting the data, Dr. Lee Chia-chi (李佳琪) stressed that the newly HIV-infected persons also include young people between 15 and 24 years. The most astounding fact is that despite prevention campaigns, the number of infected in New Taipei alone has tripled over the past 10 years: in fact it rose from 49 in 2003 to 147 in 2012.

Although the largest number of cases of infection occurs in the 25-29 age group, proportionally the largest increase has been among young people under 24 years old. According to experts, behind this increase is the growth of a disordered sexual behavior.

Matthew Lee (李先生), who works as a catechist with young people in a parish of New Taipei, says: "with my wife and the parish staff we often do meetings aimed at providing a healthy sex education, and many understand its importance. In Taiwan there is a strong young team of catechists who are trained in intensive courses at the theological faculty, especially Father Louis Aldrich (艾立勤神父) and his staff that works closely with the faculties of middle and high schools and with life education centres (生命教育中心)".

The path, he adds, "is drawn, we need only to better coordinate the efforts and make children aware of the dangers and above all of their positive potential: they can change the habits of many of their friends through simple messages through word of mouth and on the web. Probably my generation had also been scared by the spread of this disease that then was unknown, so many young people are informed about the danger. Today young people are misinformed and when they realize it, it may be too late."

With regard to HIV/AIDS in Taiwan, as far as global data, those who have shown symptoms of the disease between 1984 and March 2013, reached a total of 24,792 people. And dividing all those affected into categories, 45.7% contracted it by relations with the same sex, 25.2% by infected syringes used for various drugs and 18.1% from heterosexual relationships.



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