The changing epidemiology of prevalent diagnosed HIV infections in Taiwan, 1984-2005

Int J Drug Policy. 2008 Aug;19(4):317-23. doi: 10.1016/j.drugpo.2006.11.016. Epub 2007 Jan 4.


By the end of 2005, there were 10,158 reported cases of HIV infections in Taiwan, of them, 2,403 had developed full blown AIDS, and 1,333 had died. It represented an average annual increase of 15% in HIV diagnoses before 2003. The most common route of transmission is through men having sex with men followed by heterosexual contact, while infections through injecting drug use (IDUs) remained low. However, the number of newly reported HIV infections has been rising sharply since 2003, mainly among IDUs. The consequences of this HIV/IDU epidemic include a rapid increase in female HIV/AIDS patients and a decreased mean age of HIV/AIDS cases. Only 2% of patients in the IDU group have been diagnosed with AIDS, suggesting that most IDU cases are in the early stage of HIV infections. HIV/AIDS patients are provided with free medical care by the government in Taiwan, including anti-retroviral treatment. The case fatality rate of AIDS cases declined gradually from 64% in 1996 to 8.9% in 2005. Patients in the IDU group seek medical care less frequently than patients in the sexual contact group. Statistics show that 61.4% of patients in the IDU group did not seek HIV-related medical care, significantly higher compared to the sexual contact group. The Taiwanese government implemented a trial "Harm Reduction Programme," which involved a needle-syringe programme (NSP) and substitution treatment, in August 2005. After 1 year's pilot study, the HIV incidence in cities with NSP decreased from 13.9 to 13.3 per 100,000 persons compared to an incidence increase from 11.5 to 15.3 per 100,000 persons in cities without NSP. We scaled up the programme to cover the whole of Taiwan in July 2006 and are expecting to see the efficacy in the near future.

MeSH terms

  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / epidemiology
  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / prevention & control
  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / transmission
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology*
  • HIV Infections / prevention & control
  • HIV Infections / transmission
  • HIV-1
  • Homosexuality, Male
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Needle-Exchange Programs
  • Population Surveillance
  • Prevalence
  • Primary Prevention
  • Sexual Behavior
  • Substance Abuse, Intravenous / epidemiology
  • Taiwan / epidemiology