Number of Japanese AIDS Cases Slowly Increasing; Actual Number of HIV-Positive People Likely Higher Than Reported
The number of AIDS cases in Japan is slowly increasing, and the number of HIV-positive people in the country is estimated to be higher than the number reported, AFP/Yahoo! News reports. In 2003, the government recorded 336 new AIDS cases but only 640 new HIV cases, a number that was "far lower than expected," according to AFP/Yahoo! News. Since Japan began tracking HIV/AIDS cases in 1985, the government has recorded 2,892 AIDS cases and 5,780 HIV cases, excluding cases caused by HIV-tainted blood transfusions. However, the number of HIV-positive people should be approximately 10 times greater than the number of AIDS cases, according to gynecologist Tsuneo Akaeda, who is the director of the Akaeda Roppongi Clinic. Although the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare has opened testing centers on weekends and increased the number of no-cost tests it offers, "[i]t's already too late," Akaeda said. "Japanese people don't get themselves tested," he said, adding, "For young people, free testing conflicts with their schedules." Masanori Suzuki, head of the AIDS Health Care Section at the Ministry of Health, agreed that there are probably more cases than have been identified. A majority of the new HIV/AIDS cases have been linked to sexual contact, and the increases could be related to "home-delivery" commercial sex work, sex tourism, lack of condom use and a lack of HIV testing, according to AFP/Yahoo! News (AFP/Yahoo! News, 9/8).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.