Nå digrerer jeg. Jeg skrev jo om Hongkong, men det var dette som gjorde meg nysgjerrig. Da jeg jobbet med artikkelen, oppdaget jeg dessuten at jeg hadde lest feil. Hongkong har heldigvis en av de laveste HIV-ratene i verden. I november skulle vi skrive om en minoritet i Hongkong. Første desember var det World AIDS Day. Dette var mitt bidrag.
HONG KONG — Shaun has a job, and family and friends he cares about. However, he also carries a secret his doctor advised him not share, to avoid discrimination.
One and a half years ago, his boyfriend at the time told Shaun, he had contracted a sexually transmitted disease. Shaun went to a clinic and got tested. The test showed he was HIV-positive.
“I didn’t expect something that serious,” Shaun, now 28, said. Later, the ex-boyfriend explained he wasn’t aware that by only taking HIV-medicine, but not using condoms when they had sex, the ex-boyfriend was still risking infecting others.
“Chinese people are very prudent when it comes to sex-education, they just don’t like talking about it,” Shaun said. In school, he learned HIV was usually spread through sexual contact, and to use protection when having sex.
No one ever told him what HIV actually is. When diagnosed, he spent hours searching for information online, only to discover a lot of misleading websites. “People would say you can contract HIV if you are bitten by a mosquito, or by sharing the same drink,” he said.
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A total of 150 additional HIV-cases were reported to the Department of Health in the second quarter of 2014, bringing the cumulative total of reported HIV infections to 6 646 since 1984. (Graph contracted from http://www.info.gov.hk)
Hong Kong has a prevalence rate of 0.1 percent, low compared to the 0.8 percent global rate, according to the United Nations AIDS department. However, there has been a rapid increase in cases, with most of the affected being gay men, the Department of Health’s past three annual reports revealed.
Forced to make frequent trips to a HIV-clinic in the beginning, Shaun found it hard asking his supervisor for time off without revealing he was sick. He still needs to take daily medication. The side effects make working overtime difficult. “It’s like being on a boat, you get dizzy, and very sleepy,” Shaun said.
His career prospects are reduced, “I can’t take a senior manager position, they would require a complete health examination,” he explained.
Before he was diagnosed, Shaun wanted to move abroad. Last year, a headhunter offered him a job in Singapore. “Unless they change the restrictions on people with HIV, that cannot happen, I had to turn it down,” he said.
When Shaun told his last boyfriend he had HIV, his partner broke all contact. The experience scared him. “It’s difficult to get someone who is already negative to understand,” Shaun said.
Shaun said his life is good for now. His relationship with his siblings has changed. The disease has brought them closer together, “We have started talking, we never did that before,” he said.