HIV/Aids

12 September 2007

Dating site blamed for HIV spread

The number of HIV cases in Hong Kong has surged partly because of men finding sexual partners over the internet and spreading the virus.

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The number of HIV cases in Hong Kong has surged partly because of men finding sexual partners over the internet and spreading the virus, the territory's health director said Wednesday.

PY Lam told a World Health Organization meeting in South Korea that there had been a worrying rise in the number of reported cases as more gay men met for casual sex, often using no condoms.

Three clusters of cases have been found in the city of 6.9 million people in the past two years, suggesting the virus is being spread among promiscuous men who meet through the internet, Lam said.

50 infections from a single source
One of those clusters has found more than 50 men contracting the virus from the same initial source, leading to a sharp rise in the number of recorded infections.

Speaking from South Korea to Hong Kong's government-run radio station RTHK, Lam described the development as worrying and said action was needed to be taken to try to stem the rise in infections among gay men.

"We have seen three clusters of HIV among men who have sex with men," Lam said. "In this information age they find new ways to meet each other and have relationships sometimes on a very casual basis, while condom use is very low."

Hong Kong recorded around 100 new cases of HIV every quarter and has had more than 3 000 infections in total, as well as around 900 cases of full-blown AIDS. – (Sapa)

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Dr Sindisiwe van Zyl qualified at the University of Pretoria in 2005. She is a patients' rights activist and loves using social media to teach about HIV. She is in private practice in Johannesburg.

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