With “Stop AIDS, Keep the Promise”as this year's World AIDS Day rally cry, the Center for Disease Control yesterday reaffirmed its commitment to reducing AIDS in Taiwan.
According to the CDC, Taiwan is experiencing a surge of AIDS (short for auto immunodeficiency syndrome). In 2005 alone, the island saw 2,849 new cases, 1.8 times more than the 1,521 cases reported last year, which averages out to roughly 10 new infections per day. The total number of people infected with HIV (the human immunodeficiency virus that gives rise to AIDS) has surpassed the 10,000 mark since the first reported case in 1984, said the CDC.
CDC statistics also show that 66 percent of this year's HIV patients became infected through sharing contaminated equipment during drug use. Homosexual behavior is the second most common form of transmission, accounting for 12.8 percent of all cases.
Department of Health Minister Hou Sheng-mou urged everybody to be aware of the dangers of careless drug use and promiscuous unprotected sexual encounters. “AIDS prevention starts with the individual. Through the united efforts of the government and the public to eliminate AIDS from our society, we can stop the spread of this virulent disease,” said Hou.
Chen Yi-ming from the AIDS Prevention and Research Center of National Yang-Ming University said that his research had shown 10-15 percent of HIV-positive prisoners contracted the virus through intravenous drug abuse, usually behind bars.
Also at the same forum, the former World Health Organization Regional Director for Africa, Ebrahim Malick Samba encouraged Taiwan to be a vital player in the global combat against AIDS by providing assistance to developing countries which are suffering from the epidemic.
“You don\'t have to be a member of WHO to offer help. You have the means, the knowledge, and the skill to make a difference. Mostly importantly, Taiwan has a big heart and that\'s what matters the most,” Samba said as he lauded Taiwan's cooperation with many African countries such as Malawi in the fight against AIDS.
The annual report of the Joint United Nations Program on HIV and AIDS states there will be 5 million new infections and 3.1 million AIDS-related deaths this year. The report also implicates IDU's as one of the prime culprits for the current predicament.