HONG KONG (Reuters) - Hong Kong HIV/AIDS
patients hide their conditions from their families, partners or
spouses as long as they can, a survey this week showed.
The study released by Chinese University of Hong Kong ahead of
Friday's World AIDS Day found that less than 10 percent of
HIV/AIDS sufferers disclose their status to their families.
While 55 percent of the 289 people with HIV/AIDS interviewed
are sexually active, many keep their partners in the dark.
A quarter of married respondents hide their infection or
illness from their spouses while three quarters of those who
co-habit say nothing to their partners.
But doctors said this does not necessarily put others at risk.
"It is fine for them to be sexually active provided they are
engaged in protected sex," a consultant to the government's
AIDS' unit, Dr Lee Shui-shan, told Reuters by telephone.
One hundred and thirty-two people were tested positive with HIV
and 54 were confirmed to have AIDS during the first three
quarters of this year, according to the latest government
HIV is the virus that leads to AIDS.
HIV prevalence in Hong Kong, with a total of 1,491 reported HIV
infections and 487 confirmed AIDS cases, fares relatively well
compared with the rest of Asia.
Hong Kong, with about seven million people, has more than
double the population of Singapore but has half the number of
HIV/AIDS patients than the city state.
Singapore was ranked 10th by the United Nations among
Asia-Pacific countries for HIV prevalence in 1999.
Cambodia came top of the list with 210,000 reported HIV/AIDS
cases, followed by Thailand with 740,000 and Myanmar third with
In Hong Kong, discrimination remains the biggest hurdle for HIV
patients to be honest with others about their health, the
latest survey showed.
A noticeable proportion felt marginalised by family members and
others felt discriminated because of the media's negative
portrayal, the report said.
Universal HIV screening is in the pipeline for pregnant women
in Hong Kong. The scheme is likely to be introduced by next