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HIV, AIDS cases increase at alarming rate

Date Posted: 2007-11-16

Okinawa, which for years had few AIDS and HIV cases being reported, has now surged into second place with the number of patients in Japan.
The Okinawa Prefecture Welfare Health Section says the prefecture ranks only behind Tokyo as having the highest number of cases per capita, with 1.68 people infected for every 100,000 population. Until a year ago, AIDS and HIV reports were rare in Okinawa, but that’s changed. Cases involve both men and women.
Officials say there were 11 cases reported in 2006, but the number has more than doubled to 23 in the first nine months of this year. HIV infections account for 18 cases, while AIDS patients are the other five. “Most of the patients come from big cities,” a Welfare Health Section official says, “and not from small Okinawan districts.” The report says an increasing number of homosexuals living in Okinawa accounts for the increase.
The prefecture report points out the numbers reflect only those people who have voluntarily gone to health centers for treatment by doctors, and that it believes there may be more cases in Okinawa. The Welfare Health Section adds that many tourists and foreigners visiting Okinawa may have the infections, but aren’t being seen by Okinawa doctors.

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