Free condoms should be provided at student unions and dorms, a Hong Kong health concern group said on Friday, after a survey found more than half of locals had unprotected sex with a first-time partner while some had intercourse as early as age 11.
The Hong Kong Aids Foundation released its survey on the eve of World Aids Day.
The organisation interviewed 536 people aged 28 on average between August and October, with 51 per cent of respondents saying they did not use a condom the first time as they trusted their partner.
Around 40 per cent said they did not have condoms at hand. Of those, almost two-thirds had not planned to have sex, while another 14 per cent were too embarrassed to buy contraceptives. Three-quarters of those surveyed were males.
“Some youngsters think condoms are just for preventing pregnancy,” said Eris Lau, the foundation’s chief executive.
“But I dare ask, do they really know the functions of a condom? They care about feelings and trust the partner, instead of their sexual health. This is a concern.”
Around a tenth of respondents said they first had sex at or before age 15, while five claimed they had their first sexual experience at age 11. The legal age for sex in Hong Kong is 16.
The foundation strongly recommended the health authorities distribute condoms to the public in places such as student unions and dorms, as people generally now tended to have sex at a much younger age.
But when asked if such a move would encourage underage sex, the foundation’s senior programme manager Johnny Li said: “Teaching people about fire safety measures and conducting fire drills doesn’t mean they are being encouraged to start a fire.
“If they have sex, they should know how to protect themselves.”
The foundation also urged people to take an HIV test as part of a regular medical check-up after the survey found the average interval between a first sexual contact and being tested for the virus was nearly three years, with the longest period at 16 years.
Teaching people about fire safety measures doesn’t mean they are being encouraged to start a fire
Johnny Li, Hong Kong Aids Foundation
The non-governmental organisation was set up in 1991 to curb the spread of HIV infection and promote education on Aids. Former Hospital Authority chairman Dr Edward Leong Che-hung heads the group.
On Tuesday, the city’s top HIV doctor, Dr Kenny Chan Chi-wai, said safe sex remained the best way to avoid infection by the virus that causes Aids. His comments followed reports that a Chinese scientist had gene-edited babies to be immune to HIV.
The foundation said it was strongly against the controversial research by scientist He Jiankui.
The Centre for Health Protection reported 156 new HIV infections from July to September, similar to the same period last year. That took the total number of reported HIV infections in the city to 9,543 since 1984.