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AIDS rate surging among young: CDC

The China Post news staff--The number of AIDS patients aged between 15 and 24 has surged rapidly over the past five years to an aggregate of 4,376 in Taiwan so far. Approximately 96 percent of the patients contracted HIV due to unprotected sex, according to statistics released yesterday by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) under the Cabinet-level Department of Health.

AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) is a disease of the human immune system caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). HIV is transmitted primarily through unprotected sexual intercourse (including anal and even oral sex). It can also be transmitted via contaminated blood transfusions and hypodermic needles, as well as from mother to child during pregnancy, delivery or breast-feeding. There is no cure or vaccine; however, antiretroviral treatment can slow the course of the disease and may lead to a near-normal life expectancy.

CDC tallies showed that the number of new young AIDS patients aged between 15 and 24 stood at 272 in 2007, rose to 350 in 2008, 412 in 2009, 469 in 2010, and 544 in 2011.

The same statistics indicated that there were as many as 1,400 new AIDS patients confirmed in Taiwan, with 30 percent of them aged between 15 and 24, translating into two new young such patients confirmed per day.

CDC Deputy Director General Zhou Zhi-hao also said that the number of newly recruited soldiers infected with HIV reached 44 in 2008, rose to 64 in 2009, surged further to 81 in 2010, and hit 62 in the first seven months of the year alone.

Zhou said unprotected sex and use of narcotics, such as amphetamine and ketamine, are of the two major reasons behind the rapid surge in the number of young AIDS patients.

He called for young people to enhance their awareness of HIV/AIDS and avoid unprotected sex.

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