Hong Kong: SFH calls for more public acceptance of people with HIV (with photo)

The Government, together with non-governmental organisations, has made strenuous efforts in the past years to actively promote the elimination of discrimination against people with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and provide practical support services to help them integrate into normal life, the Secretary for Food and Health, Dr Ko Wing-man, said today (November 30).

Addressing the ceremony for the premiere of the microfilm Love. Zero AIDS and the launch of the World AIDS Campaign 2012 today, Dr Ko said, We need a more inclusive community. We hope the society can understand the situation and the struggles faced by HIV-infected people, show more acceptance and support to them, and let them receive appropriate treatment and services to get back to normal social life.

Dr Ko pointed out that the local HIV infection rate has remained at a low level compared with those of neighbouring regions and countries, but said the HIV/AIDS situation is dynamic and constantly influenced by many factors such as population movement, new social media, social culture and subcultures.

As of the second quarter this year, the cumulative total of reported HIV infections had reached 5,523, with a record high of 438 new cases recorded last year, representing a 12.6 per cent increase over 2010s figure. Sexual contact remained the major mode of HIV transmission in Hong Kong. Of the 438 new cases, 188 acquired the infection via homosexual or bisexual exposure.

In view of a rising trend in HIV prevalence among the men who have sex with men (MSM) community, the Council for the AIDS Trust Fund had swiftly expanded the scale of the preventive and control measures for the MSM community through a special project fund.

As of March this year, the AIDS Trust Fund supported more than 620 programmes on the prevention and control of the spread of AIDS, with a sum of funding amounting to over $410 million. Through various projects, the co-operation among Hong Kong, the Mainland and the United Nations has been strengthened on the fronts of AIDS surveillance, health promotion and exchanges of technical expertise.

In future, the Government will continue to enhance the existing work, mobilise efforts from different sectors of the community, and maintain a high quality of medical treatment and health-care services. I believe with the concerted efforts of the Government and civil organisations, the prevention and control of AIDS can be further strengthened and we can build up a better social environment for HIV-infected people, said Dr Ko.

World AIDS Day on December 1 brings together people from around the world to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS and demonstrate international solidarity in the face of the pandemic. To echo the World AIDS Day, the Government and AIDS concerned parties launched a series of activities to raise public awareness of the disease and promote acceptance of people with HIV.

Major activities this year comprise the ceremony for the premiere of the microfilm Love. Zero AIDS and the launch of the World AIDS Day Campaign 2012, the World AIDS Campaign 2012 Cantonese radio programme jointly organised by Radio Television Hong Kong Radio 2 and the Department of Healths Red Ribbon Centre, the Red Ribbon Concert 2012 organised by the Red Ribbon Centre, and the promotion of safer sex and HIV testing.

Other officiating guests at the ceremony today included the Director of Health, Dr Constance Chan, the Controller of the Centre for Health Protection of the Department of Health, Dr Thomas Tsang; the Deputy Director of Broadcasting (Developments), Miss Tai Shuk-yiu; the Deputy Director of the Shenzhen Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr Ma Han-wu; the Secretary General of the AIDS Prevention and Control Commission, Macao Special Administrative Region Government, Dr Lam Chong; the Chairperson of the Hong Kong Advisory Council on AIDS, Dr Susan Fan; the Chairman of the Council for the AIDS Trust Fund, Dr Matthew Ng; and the Chairman of the Red Ribbon Centre Management Advisory Committee, Dr Richard Tan.