The HIV is spreading rapidly among Hong Kong's gay community as research indicates a rise in the number of men having unsafe sex, officials said Tuesday.
Profiling of the virus acquired by HIV sufferers has revealed a cluster of cases with similar genetic sequencing which has risen from 34 to 53 cases since October last year.
Department of Health expert Wong Ka-hing urged people with a history of unprotected sex to have HIV tests, saying the findings suggested "rapid local HIV transmission" among gay men in the city of 6.9 million.
Hong Kong recorded 91 new cases of HIV in the first quarter of 2007, bringing the total number of infections to 3,289. Twenty new cases of AIDS were diagnosed, raising the total since 1985 to 875.
The detection of clusters of cases among gay men in Hong Kong follows regional findings that the proportion of gay men in Asia contracting HIV has risen sharply in recent years.
The trend suggests that safe-sex practices and condom use among the gay community have eased since the HIV epidemic peaked in the 1980s and early 1990s.