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AIDS/HIV News Archive: KOREA


455 more test positive for HIV/AIDS in Korea 25/10/04 -- Korea Herald

On Oct. 20, health authorities reported that 455 people tested positive for HIV in the first nine months of 2004, raising the number of resident Koreans who have been infected with the virus to 2,994. The new cases represent a 14 percent increase over new cases in the same period the previous year. All 305 cases whose route of transmission has been determined were infected sexually: 51 percent heterosexual vs. 49 percent homosexual, according to the Korean Center for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC). Since 1985, when the nation's AIDS epidemic began, 591 people died of AIDS, leaving the number living with HIV-infection at 2,403. A survey last year found that only 12 percent of adults reported using condoms during sex. In an effort to boost their use, KCDC recently launched a major campaign to improve the image of condoms. Beginning this month, KCDC and the Korea Anti-AIDS Federation introduced commercials promoting condom use. These public service announcements, aired nationwide on MBC-TV, are scheduled to run twice daily Monday through Thursday and once daily Friday through Sunday. In addition, 132 foreign residents were found to be HIV-infected: They are not included in the 455 figure. The number of foreign cases in the first nine months of 2004 was more than double the 59 foreign cases found in all of 2003. Some 80,000 formerly illegal foreign workers have undergone a required check-up that includes an HIV test, and health authorities say this explains the sharp increase in cases detected among foreigners. Immigration officials say foreigners who are diagnosed with HIV/AIDS may face deportation if they do not return home on their own.


AIDS Support Center Opens in Itaewon 24/04/03 -- Korea Times

The Korea UNAIDS Information Support Center has opened recently in Itaewon, Seoul, to provide foreign residents with information and counseling on the disease. "Due to the language barrier, it was difficult for immigrants in Korea to obtain knowledge on AIDS," said Dr. Nalini Taneja, KUISC program director. The center will provide practical support, counseling services and anonymous testing for the disease. "Some foreign workers thought AIDS can be caught by hugging," she said. The center plans to hold media and street campaigns to promote awareness of the disease. Information is available in English, and the center is also searching for volunteers who are able to communicate in other languages used in the foreign community.


Changing Attitude Toward Sex Threatens South Korea 14/03/03 -- San Francisco Chronicle

In South Korea, conservative mores discourage frank discussion about sex and some people say promiscuity and adultery are less common than in other Asian countries. Many health experts say society's renunciation of promiscuity is a major reason why South Korea's 50 million inhabitants have one of the lowest HIV infection rates in Asia. UNAIDS says there were only 4,000 cases, or .01 percent of the 15-to-49 age bracket, at the end of 2001. However, some recent surveys show that 17 percent of high school students are sexually active. Men account for nearly 89 percent of Koreans with HIV, official statistics show. Most are in their 30s (35.2 percent) and 20s (27.1 percent). About 94 percent of all South Koreans with HIV contracted it sexually, 67 percent from heterosexual intercourse and 30 percent from homosexual intercourse, according to Korea's National Institute of Health. Very few contracted HIV through dirty needles. In 2002, South Korea recorded 400 new HIV cases, compared to 124 in 1997. And by 1993, the majority of new infections were passed from Korean to Korean. The sex industry in South Korea is big business, accounting for $20 billion, or 4.1 percent of the nation's gross domestic product in 2002, according to the Korean Institute of Criminology. To control prostitution, government officials are considering legalizing it. Korea's National Institute of Health plans to install 18,000 condom vending machines at major nightspots throughout the country and at "every possible location we can," said Kwon Jun Wook, an NIH official. The government now also offers a Web site with AIDS information, a 24-hour hotline and free HIV tests. A government campaign encourages middle school and high school teachers to lead candid discussions with their students about the consequences of unprotected sex. Starting in middle school, students are taught about abstinence and safe sex practices.


HIV Infections Rise by 20 Percent 18/10/02 -- Korea Times

The number of Koreans who are infected with HIV is on the rise, according to a study released by the nation's National Institute of Health on Thursday. Between January and September this year, 277 people have tested HIV-positive, increasing the total number of people with HIV to 1,888 as of September. The rate shows that an average of one person is infected each day. This is a 19.7 percent increase from the same period last year. Among those who have tested positive, 73 have contracted AIDS and 59 have died of the disease. The study also found that, of those who knew how they were infected, 97.2 percent, or 1,505, said they acquired the virus during sexual intercourse. Of those infected sexually, 360 (23.9 percent) acquired the virus by contact with foreigners, while 688 (almost 46 percent) acquired it from Koreans. Thirty percent (457 people) were infected by members of the same sex.


More South Koreans Found HIV Positive in 2001 10/01/02 -- Korea Times

Korea's National Institute of Health (NIH) reported Wednesday that 333 people tested positive for HIV in 2000, bringing the total figure for the country to 1,613 cases, with 42 progressing to AIDS last year. Of those, only two patients remain alive. Though HIV infections have steadily climbed in recent years, this represents the largest increase since the first case was confirmed in 1985. Infections in teenagers rose to six from one case the previous year. Infections in people in their 50s more than doubled, from 23 cases to 52. Among people in their 60s, the number increased from 10 to 22 cases. The figure for male patients rose from 194 to 298, a 54 percent increase. Reluctance to use condoms during sex, NIH officials said, brought about by ignorance of the disease was a decisive factor in the greater number of cases. A NIH official said campaigns urging condom use and other activities are planned to heighten awareness of the disease.


Surge in AIDS Attributed to More Liberal Attitudes Toward Sex Among Korean Youth 07/05/01 -- Korea Herald

Officials of Korea's National Institute of Health (NIH) reported yesterday that 159 Koreans became infected with HIV in the first six months of the year, bringing the nation's total number of HIV cases to 1,439. Thirty HIV-infected persons died, and 23 developed AIDS. The number of new HIV cases reported between January and June was higher than for the same period in 2000 (110), 1999 (88) or 1998 (64). HIV officials attributed the increase to young Koreans' sexual activities, which have become more liberal, as well as to a rise in infections among homosexuals. Officials also said HIV incidence is rising faster because an increasing number of people are being tested for HIV. Of the 1,209 HIV cases whose cause was confirmed, 1,167 (97 percent) were sexually transmitted. The second most common route of infection was through blood transfusions or blood-based medical products.


N. Korea Has No AIDS Patients, Health Minister Says Oct 21, 1997

In a speech marking National Immunization Day on Monday, North Korea's health minister announced that the communist nation is the only country in the world free of AIDS, North Korea Central Broadcasting reports. Health Minister Kim Su-hak also noted that the country had long since eradicated measles, smallpox, and diphtheria. -- Reuters (10/21/97)


SOUTH KOREA: CAUTIOUS SOCIETY CAUGHT IN A VICE July 21, 1996

A TEENAGE couple walk hand in hand in Seoul's swank Myong-dong shopping arcade. A normal rite of spring in many parts of the world, but for some conservative members of Korean society a disturbing new trend. Public displays of affection are frowned upon in Korea, and are sometimes seen as a breakdown in a social system that has enabled the country to overcome the trials of history.

A debate is underway between the Health-Welfare Ministry and the Ministry of Education about the inclusion of sex education classes in school curriculums. The Ministry of Education argues the conservative nature of many parents precludes the teaching of sex education, especially contraception.

But government figures indicate that the AIDS virus, once believed to have been passed on exclusively from foreigners to Koreans, is now more likely to be passed from Korean to Korean. The lack of information on contraception, experts say, is likely to cause a significant increase in the numbers of Koreans with HIV. --SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST


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