New HIV cases in Taiwan drop to lowest level since 2009

Taiwan HIV cases drops to new low since 2009. (CNA photo)

Taiwan HIV cases drops to new low since 2009. (CNA photo)

The number of new HIV cases in Taiwan has dropped for a second consecutive year to 1,599, a year-to-date figure that could end up being the lowest in a decade, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said Friday (Nov. 29).

It would be the lowest since the 1,641 cases recorded in 2009 and well below the record-high of 3,377 cases in 2005, CDC statistics showed.

As of Nov. 26, the total number of people living in Taiwan with HIV/AIDS was 39,514.

In an interview with CNA, CDC Deputy Director General Lo Yi-chun (羅一鈞) attributed the decrease to preventative measures, such as promoting safe sex and treatments that reduce the risk of transmission, as well as increased access to confidential and convenient medical screening.

Twelve hospitals across Taiwan now provide "anonymous one-stop HIV screening services," ensuring maximum access for anyone wishing to confirm their HIV-status, Lo said.

In addition, Taiwan has 42 designated pharmacies where patients can obtain HIV medicine and receive medical counseling, Lo said.

According to Lo, the CDC's prevention strategy is based on those of international cities which have successfully managed HIV/AIDS, such as London, San Francisco, New York and Sydney.

Taiwan has also referenced the Joint United Nations Program on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS), which is promoting the "90-90-90 HIV treatment targets," Lo said.

Under the plan, the U.N. will pursue a goal that by 2020, 90 percent of people living with HIV know their status, 90 percent of people who know their HIV-positive status are on antiretroviral therapy, and 90 percent of people on antiretroviral therapy are virally suppressed, meaning that their viral load (HIV RNA) is undetectable.

At present, Taiwan has achieved 87, 90 and 94 percent in these respective indicators, Lo said, but it will continue to pursue improvements by making screening more accessible, and by creating an accepting atmosphere in which HIV-positive people are willing to seek treatment.