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Spike in Chemsex and HIV Rates Alarms Hong Kong Officials

Spike in Chemsex and HIV Rates Alarms Hong Kong Officials

A new survey finds HIV and chemsex on rise in Hong Kong among men who have sex with men.

Increasingly, men who have sex with men in Hong Kong are contracting HIV bringing the transmission rate to new highs, according to data collected by the city’s health authorities.

Among men who have sex with men, one in 15 reportedly has tested positive for the virus, the highest number since health authorities began collecting data.

The Center for Health Protection’s fourth HIV Prevalence and Risk Behavioural Survey last year found 6.54 percent of 4,133 respondents who said they had sex with men have HIV, compared to about 4 percent of respondents in the previous three surveys.

Dr Kenny Chan Chi-wai, consultant of the center’s special preventive programme, said the latest figure was still lower than the rate of infection in some major Southeast Asian cities, where about 10 percent are believed to have HIV.

World Health Organisation figures from 2015 found the estimated median HIV prevalence ranged from 4.3 percent in Southeast Asia, to 14.9 percent in the African region.

“Is 6.5 percent a figure we should be happy with? Definitely not,” Chan said, noting that the center would continue promoting safe sex within the community.

The survey also found that more men in the group had used recreational drugs before or during sex in the past six months – with 16.2 percent of respondents saying so compared to 12.3 percent in the 2011 survey.

“Chemsex … probably enhanced their [sexual] experience, but also lowered the guard of the person in terms of whether or not they should use a condom,” Chan said.

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