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International News

Japan: Poll -- Delay in HIV Detection Fatal

June 8, 2004

A survey conducted by the Yomiuri Shimbun revealed that at least 29 patients died of AIDS in 2003 because of delays in detecting the virus. The patients died within one year of HIV diagnosis and treatment at medical institutions.

Last year, a record-high 976 HIV patients were reported in Japan. Before 2003, 19 people had died from AIDS, according to government statistics. Experts argue that government figures are low because medical institutions are not required to report AIDS deaths. Twenty-four of 27 targeted hospitals specializing in treating HIV/AIDS responded to the survey.

According to the survey, 34 patients died of AIDS-related complications in 2003, 23 from Tokyo and five from the Osaka area. Of those patients, 30 were Japanese, three were foreign residents, and one person's nationality was unknown. The figure does not include AIDS patients who contracted the disease from contaminated blood. For the 29 who died within a year of HIV diagnosis, treatment did not work well because of severity of symptoms, medication side effects or other reasons.

Satoshi Kimura, chairperson of the Japanese Society for AIDS Research, expressed concern about rising rates of HIV and low public awareness of the disease. "Anyone can become infected [with HIV] through sexual intercourse," he said. "But most people think it's someone else's problem."

Although public health centers and other medical institutions conduct free HIV tests, access is limited and patients must return for results. This fiscal year, the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry has urged the use of rapid tests that can deliver results in 30 minutes.

Back to other news for June 8, 2004

Adapted from:
Daily Yomiuri

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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