When humiliating photos of the busted men were broadcast on local television, gay groups criticized the police for harassment. But last Tuesday the police released the results of blood tests forced on the young men, showing that 28 of them were HIV positive. Officially, Taiwan has only 5,251 people living with HIV out of a population of 23 million. "The department used to think it had underestimated the nation's infected population by 10%-15%," says Health Minister Chen Chien-jen. The tests on the party goers, Chen says, suggest the real HIV figures may be considerably higher.
The men who knew they were HIV positive might be prosecuted for intentionally putting sex partners at risk. Will that inhibit Taiwan's increasingly free-wheeling gay scene? May Chiu, head of the Garden of Mercy Foundation, an AIDS support group, says she's heard of similar soirées with 600 participants. "Some AIDS patients," she says, "tend to party like there's no tomorrow."