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Local groups try to combat the rise of HIV infection in Japan

28 Comments
By Karryn Miller

The statistics speak for themselves: 25 million dead, 33 million infected and 2 million new cases each year. The global AIDS epidemic, which first reared its head 27 years ago, continues to spread around the globe. As governments and NPOs work together to lessen the impact, infection rates have slowed and the public’s knowledge throughout the First World has increased — except in Japan.

According to a July 2008 report published by The Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS and the World Health Organization, Japan had the lowest HIV prevalence of the major developed countries. Yet in contrast to other nations, infection rates here have actually grown since 1996.

“The number of newly reported HIV cases is dramatically increasing, especially among men who have sex with men, and young people,” says Tsutomu Nemoto, an organizer of Japan’s upcoming World AIDS Day event. “What’s also worrying is the increase in newly reported cases, meaning the virus wasn’t detected before it developed into full-blown AIDS.

Why? Too often, HIV is viewed as an overseas problem. “How aware people are in Japan about AIDS varies from person to person,” Nemoto says. “Most people seem not to realize they can get HIV. When it comes to AIDS, some people imagine that it is a disease somewhere in Africa or that it affects a particular population, like gay people and/or sex workers.”

Indeed, the numbers are alarming. An NGO called Stop! STD o Kangaeru Kai conducted a survey of youths in Shibuya last year. Of the 466 Japanese high school students questioned, one in 17 had contracted a sexually transmitted infection (STI), and only half were aware that HIV/AIDs could be spread among people their age. According to “The Face of Global Sex 2008,” a report compiled by condom maker Durex, out of the 26 countries surveyed, Japan ranked 25th in terms of the general public’s knowledge about how to protect itself from STIs.

World AIDS Day (WADS), held around the globe on Dec 1, aims to raise awareness of the situation. “The theme of WADS 2008 in Japan is ‘Think & Link,’” explains Nemoto. “WADS is trying to link peoples’ daily lives and AIDS together by holding various events, including live music performances, distributing condoms in the middle of Shibuya, and organizing other activities throughout Japan.”

The bulk of these events will take place on Sunday, Nov 30, in the vicinity of Shibuya station. One of the highlights will be the Red Walk, with volunteers marching through the city’s streets handing out literature about the disease.

After WADS 2008 wraps up, there will still be a number of ways people can get information and help. Free, anonymous HIV testing is available at the public health center of each ward. Test dates and times are limited, however, making it necessary to contact your local center in advance. The Japanese Foundation for AIDS Prevention also runs a 24-hour support line, with pre-recorded information about HIV/AIDS, as well as counseling, testing, treatment and more, in English and seven other languages.

See www.wadsjapan.net (Japanese only) for more information about WADS events. To volunteer or request English information, email toma@youthaidscoalition.org. The 24-hour, multilingual HIV/AIDS support hotline is 03-5940-2127.

This story originally appeared in Metropolis magazine (www.metropolis.co.jp).

© Japan Today

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

28 Comments
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Sounds like they need air Kamisama Mou Sukoshi Dake again.

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the statistic have been there for anyone to see for years. Japanese salaryman goes on huhmm a golf trip to Thailand comes back and infects his enjyoukosai GF who in turn infects her teenage BF and on it goes. till the Japanese understand they are part of the human race and that they themselves are the caiirers of this desease nothing will change. we are talking about a country where abortion is the common birth control and teens think it's normal to catch an STD.

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Quote from the article: "Of the 466 Japanese high school students questioned, one in 17 had contracted a sexually transmitted infection (STI), and only half were aware that HIV/AIDs could be spread among people their age".

WTF? They just might find out the hard way that 'ignorance isn't bliss'.

What happened to sex education? Come on education minstry, start educating and stop hiding the real facts of life and history. Your students are after all the future generation of Japan... Stop protecting like a nanny state and educate real facts....

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I don't GET IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! What is the rate of infection in Japan?? And.....AND.....Do only high school students get STDs?

What is the point of this article????????? It provides little other than generalizations and heresay!!!!!!!!!!!

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WADS...lol what a great name.Exactly the root of the problem.

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Nihao! Sounds like a conspiracy to wipe out the already declining Japanese population. Probably cheap, aids tainted condoms from China under the "buy one, get one free" plan.

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Local groups have to because the National Government won't do anything. Aso will of course complain that he is paying taxes to keep HIV patients alive.

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The sex-ed videos they show kids date way back to before they even knew HIV existed.

I didn't know that 'STD' had changed to 'STI'. Interesting. The rate of people with infection and who die from infection is going to SKYROCKET much more than the numbers reported here. It'll take a LONG time and MANY deaths for the Japanese to come to terms with it, and even then they'll blame foreigners for bringing in the disease, but in the end they'll have to acknowledge it and join in the fight to combat it. Way too late, of course, but hey.

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Nice that confidential and free testing is now available. Since most people in Japan haven't gotten tested, it's hard to know how bad the problem really is, and this may be the only way to come to grips with the problem, late though it may be. The reality will no doubt be a shock to many.

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When I visited the hospital in Tokyo for high fever, first thing the nurse asked was whether I had sex with men and then did a HIV test. Is homosexuality that rampant in Japan? I know they are crazy about Hello Kitty, High School Girls etc. I am not sure about Gay population in Japan. Can anyone shed some light on this?

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it`s the southeast asian sex tours.

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Sounds like they need air Kamisama Mou Sukoshi Dake again.

Indeed.

I didn't know that 'STD' had changed to 'STI'. Interesting.

I think the idea is to reduce the stigma so people will actually bother getting tested. Not sure if it works....

Most (if not all) Japanese hospitals run tests for HIV, hepatitis and syphilis before patients are admitted for surgery, although I've not previously heard of people being quizzed about their sexual habits like ataro was.

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if you are of any age and looking into sexual intercourse with another: -please get tested before you do so. Be responsible.

I am not one that condones risky sexual behaviour with others. -it's not worth it!

Please be careful and live careful, happy productives lives.

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well if you actually look at the most high-risk groups for hiv/aids (the destitute and/or heavy/intravenous drug users) you'll notice that they aren't exactly the sort of people with healthy lifestyles. hmmmm... that's interesting, isn't it?

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Right on Badsey! As my dearly sainted dad advised me "Wear a wet suit before taking the dive in". I only wish more dads would advise their sons and daughters of this. Condoms save many lives and prevent the spread of disease, they are not 100% effective, but it is better than nothing.

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Playing devils advocate it is not only the Japanese men going on trips throughout Asia. It is also the ladies going abroad to Australia, USA, Canada and UK and finding holiday boyfriends. Not to mention some of the nasty Caucasian foreigners around Tokyo. Dipping in some of those same women people were talking about earlier. You know the ones I am talking about.

The only difference between us and a large majority of Japanese when it comes to this issue is that we should know better. Alot are still ignorant to the issue.

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we are talking about a country where abortion is the common birth control and teens think it's normal to catch an STD.

Which country is that? You just described a dozen countries, in the first world, alone, (albeit including Japan).

We thought it wasn't a problem for us, too, until those sailors and their constituents brought it to the states, and our science woke up and smelt the roses about this virus and what the implications were.

That's to be expected when you're new to a disease, as a country.

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The fact is Japan has a low rate of confirmed HIV cases. Why is it so low? Because there is a low rate of testing.

This is known as living in a state of denial.

Compare this with the situation with mad cow's disease. It didn't exist in Japan because there was virtually no testing. Then it hit.

But surely this can only be picked up in foreign countries as we are warned when we go to Narita to leave Japan, but not when we come back.

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Some Japanese friends of mine said that they dont ask guys to wear condoms - whereas friends from home demand it! And some carry their own. I think Japanese need more education on PERSONAL HEALTH - A Japanese friend of mine thought that girls pee from their vagina - she had no idea but was a very 'itelligent' private university student. made me worry lots...

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Most of the girls I know seem to know about as much as the "intelligent uni student" butterfly1 described. It absolutely astonishes me how little some girls know about their own bodies, STIs and birth control. Scary in fact

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RMs - My mum talked to my sister and I about 'stuff' and I had books at home like 'Where did I come from?', 'What's happening to me?', 'Everygirl'... so that those questions we didnt feel comfortable asking or talking about with her, we could read up about by ourselves... What happens here?? Just asked hubby... parents didnt talk to him about anything to do with puberty and sex. He learnt everything from the schoolyard... FRIGHTENING!!

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ataro, it's as rampant as most any industrialized nation. As non-PC as it may be, that and drug use has an exceptionally high rate of transmission compared to man-woman sex. When HIV enters most countries, it starts spreading these two ways before it goes "mainstream".

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I get tested once a year just to be safe: the Shinjuku free clinic has stats up in the office. Of the people going to get tested something like 1% have it. The actual numbers of people who are infected but do not know (and have been infected for more than a year) are probably pretty scary.

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I get tested once a year just to be safe:

Ah, the good old days.

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The statistics speak for themselves: 25 million dead, 33 million infected and 2 million new cases each year. The global AIDS epidemic, which first reared its head 27 years ago, continues to spread around the globe.

The vast majority of these are in developing countries, so it's more accurate to call it an epidemic of the developing world, rather than a global epidemic.

According to a July 2008 report published by The Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS and the World Health Organization, Japan had the lowest HIV prevalence of the major developed countries. Yet in contrast to other nations, infection rates here have actually grown since 1996.

So in Japan it's a minor problem that's become slightly less minor a problem.

“The number of newly reported HIV cases is dramatically increasing"

No figures provided. Interesting.

“What’s also worrying is the increase in newly reported cases, meaning the virus wasn’t detected before it developed into full-blown AIDS."

Huh? Does anyone follow this logic?

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I didn't know that 'STD' had changed to 'STI'. Interesting.

Probably to distinguish between symptomless infections and full-blown diseases. For many STDs, you can be infected but asymptomatic.

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http://www.aycworldnews.com/global-aids-crisis-overblown-some-dare-to-say-so/

Global AIDS crisis overblown? Some dare to say so by: admin December 1, 2008, 3:39 pm LONDON (AP) — As World AIDS Day is marked on Monday, some experts are growing more outspoken in complaining that AIDS is eating up funding at the expense of more pressing health needs. They argue that the world has entered a post-AIDS era in which the disease’s spread has largely been curbed in much of the world, Africa excepted.

“AIDS is a terrible humanitarian tragedy, but it’s just one of many terrible humanitarian tragedies,” said Jeremy Shiffman, who studies health spending at Syracuse University.

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At least they are finally admitting there is a problem. That's the first step. Getting the "safe sex" message out to the bedroom level is probably going to be difficult. Ostrich syndrome, anybody?

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