By Yi Whan-woo
The total number of people infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in the country surpassed 8,000 last year, the Korea Center for Disease Control & Prevention said Tuesday.
The center said the number of HIV carriers rose by 888 in 2011, hitting a record high of 8,544. It was first time that the yearly number of new HIV carriers exceeded the 800-mark.
In research conducted by the center and the Korea Federation for HIV/AIDS, the largest age group to be newly diagnosed were those in their 40s who accounted for 24.8 percent of the total.
Those in their 20s stood at 23.4 percent, followed by those in their 30s and 50s at 22.3 percent and 16.1 percent, respectively.
Ninety-two percent, or 7,860, of all the HIV carriers were male. The number of males who were newly confirmed carriers of the virus in 2011 was 827.
The accumulated numbers of those with the virus stood at 7,771 in 2010, 7003 in 2009, 6,206 in 2008, 5,466 in 2007 and 4,717 in 2006.
Among the total carriers whose route of infection could be traced, 99.2 percent said they caught the disease through sexual contact, with 60.4 percent saying that sexual contact was with a member of the opposite gender.
According to the center, 1,512 HIV carriers have so far died after the virus developed into acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS).
The remaining 7,032 people remained alive as of last year, according to data.