Few would dispute the notion that Hong Kong is painfully backwards when it comes to sex – whether it’s discussing the topic openly or educating its young. Last July, a HKFP contributor observed that many students in Hong Kong are turning to social media for sex advice, which he said could be a result of the fact that more than 40 percent of local schools do not provide proper sex education from qualified third party organisations. In January, HKFP reported that a local university stopped its student union from giving out free condoms at a sex education event in December, saying that it encouraged sexual behaviour.
The numbers, however, are worrying. Another HKFP contributor noted that one in two women had experienced sexual harassment; one in four domestic violence; and one in seven sexual abuse, but more than 90% of such cases go unreported. A 2013 study by the government’s Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) also found that a staggering 50% of primary, secondary and tertiary students in Hong Kong had faced some form of sexual harassment in the past year, HKFP wrote.
In light of this, HKFP has pulled together a guide to sexual health in Hong Kong; many may find it difficult to ask for help when faced with such problems, and as society slowly works towards breaking the taboo surrounding the subject, hopefully this will serve as useful guidance in the meantime.
Condoms: There are condoms for sale in local drugstore chains such as Watsons and Mannings, and most neighbourhood pharmacies. You can also find them at convenience stores and supermarkets such as 7-eleven, Circle K, Wellcome and Park n’ Shop, although they are generally more expensive in convenience stores. Popular brands are Durex and Okamoto and condoms are around HK$10-HK$30 a piece, depending on the quantity and location of purchase.
Condoms are also available at the Family Planning Association of Hong Kong (FPAHK); they are priced at HK$35 for a dozen.
Many HIV/AIDS awareness organisations offer free condoms to the public, regardless of whether one is a Hong Kong resident. However, depending on the organisation, pre-booking or appointments with the organisation’s services may be required. For more information on these organisations, see the section below.
Free condoms are also found at social hygiene clinics under the Department of Health, although there is no guarantee of stock. The clinic’s services are also only provided to HKID Card holders.
Emergency contraceptive pills: These pills must be taken within 72 or 120 hours of unprotected intercourse, depending on the type of pill. The pills prevent pregnancy but if you are already pregnant, they cannot be used to cause abortion.
Emergency contraceptive pills are available at the FPAHK; although they are officially priced at HK$50-$60 per dose, clients are also likely to be asked to undergo a health assessment or consultation session. Depending on the age and marital status of the client, they would be referred to the FPAHK’s Birth Control clinics or Youth Health Care Centres; prices for the session would vary depending on the service that the FPAHK deem most apt for them. For example, the fee for a session with a doctor at the Birth Control Clinic is HK$130-$200 for permanent residents and HKID cards+valid stay document holders, and HK$300 for others.
One can also consult their family doctor or go to a Maternal and Child Health Centre under the Department of Health for emergency contraception.
Emergency contraception is not available over-the-counter in Hong Kong, although some pharmacies do sell them discreetly.
IUD: The intrauterine contraceptive device is an increasingly popular mode of contraception. At the FPAHK, common IUD (without hormone) and hormonal IUD (hormone releasing) are available at HK$250 and HK$1,500 per piece respectively.
Oral contraceptive pills: These are available in pharmacies and personal health care chains such as Mannings and Watsons. You can get them over-the-counter, meaning that a doctor’s prescription is not required. The most common brands are Microgynon, Yasmin, Nordette, Mercilon, Cerazette and Marvelon, to name a few, and prices are around HK$100-HK$200 for each box/cycle, depending on the brand. Different women may experience different side effects with different brands.
Progestogen-only and combined oral contraceptives are also available at FPAHK. They are HK$40-$90 for each cycle, the price varying with the brand.
Pregnancy & Abortion
Abortion: Termination of pregnancy can only be legally performed up to 24 weeks, unless it is absolutely necessary to save the life of the woman, according to the Family Planning Association website.
In Hong Kong, termination of pregnancy is legal under two situations:
- If continuation of pregnancy would involve risk to the life, physical or mental health of the pregnant woman greater than if the pregnancy were terminated.
- If the child to be born would be severely handicapped as a result of physical or mental abnormality.
The presumption under (1) would be strong in the case of a pregnant woman who is below the age of 16, or has made a report to the police within 3 months that she has been the victim of incest, rape, intercourse by threat, intercourse by false pretence, or drug rape.
The FPAHK provides services of pregnancy termination, so long as the pregnancy is 10 weeks old or below at the day of abortion. If the pregnancy is advanced, applicants will be referred to a public or private hospital. Pregnancies can also be terminated at the Department of Health’s Maternal and Child Health Centres, according to Family Health Service.
At the FPAHK, it costs HK$3,300 to terminate the pregnancy for permanent residents as well as those with both HKID cards and valid stay documents. People who do not fall into either category will be paying around HK$4,400. Those who qualify for the FPAHK’s special support fund will be entitled to a significant discount of HK$1,600 off the cost; they cover women below 21, full time students, single mothers, ethnic minorities, pregnancies from non-consensual sex and more.
Pregnancy: The Birthright Society and Mother’s Choice provide support to women – particularly single teenage mothers – who prefer to keep their pregnancies. These organisations offer counselling services and a temporary residence for them to stay. They also assist them with the adoption process after delivery should the mother wish to give up the baby.
PathFinders also assist pregnant migrant women and mothers in a variety of matters such as personal and legal counsel, family planning, and shelter and accommodation.
HIV & AIDS
HIV Testing Services: Free testing is available at Hong Kong AIDS Foundation and the Department of Health’s AIDS Hotline. Other organisations that provide free-of-charge HIV antibody testing services in Hong Kong include CHOICE and The Boys’ & Girls Clubs Association of Hong Kong.
A-Backup, Gay Men HIV Testing Hotline, Rainbow of Hong Kong, and AIDS Concern are targeted towards men – mostly homosexual couples, while Midnight Blue assists mostly male sex workers; they are also free of charge. Zi Teng Clinic for Women also offer free HIV testing and serves mainly local and mainland sex workers.
Female and male social hygiene clinics under the Department of Health also provide HIV testing, but they are only free for holders of HKID Cards. Non-HKID card holders or those with invalid cards are charged HK$1100. For more information on eligibility, click here.
HIV/AIDS Treatment & Support: The Department of Health’s AIDS Hotline provide free counselling services, while the Hong Kong AIDS Foundation offers a helpline, counselling for HIV-positive people and support services for their family. The Society for AIDS Care also provides a range of medical and psychological services. The government’s Kowloon Bay Integrated Treatment Centre specialises in treating and caring for HIV patients. AIDS Concern offer pre-and post-test counselling, referral and follow-up services and education and community programmes too to MSM, youths and men who are clients of sex workers and who have multiple sex partners.
Education & Community Programmes: Apart from the organisations mentioned, others that are involved in HIV/AIDS prevention work include Red Ribbon Centre and its gay men HIV information website, Caritas Play Safe project, Teen AIDS and so on. See the full list on the government website here.
Other sexually-transmitted diseases
The FPAHK’s clinic services also provide a range of sexually-transmitted disease testing services for men, women and youths. The prices vary with the type of services; blood tests are HK$250 and cervical swabs are HK$550 for both men and women.
The Department of Health’s social hygiene clinics (for both men and women) also provide check-ups for sexual-related diseases, such as HIV, syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, and trichomoniasis. They are generally free of charge for HKID Card holders; non-HKID card holders or those with invalid cards are charged HK$1100.
Sexual Violence: The Association Concerning Sexual Violence Against Women (Rainlily) is one of the most established organisations on the topic and offer services ranging from medical support to legal assistance. The Social Welfare Department’s Integrated Family Service Centre social workers also provide similar services, including escort for report to police, to victims of sexual violence.
LGBT: While there are quite a few LGBTI groups in Hong Kong, such as The Pink Alliance, the Queer Straight Alliance, or the Big Love Alliance, many do not provide counselling or sexual health related services (e.g. tests and education). Gay Harmony, Rainbow of Hong Kong and Women Coalition of HKSAR are some that do.
Sex Workers: Zi Teng, Action for Reach Out and JJJ Association provide a variety of support and services for female sex workers, while Midnight Blue is an organisation that provides assistance to male sex workers.
Sex Education: While many of the organisations mentioned above deliver sex education workshops to students, there are also useful resources online. Sticky Rice Love is an online sex education platform, while the Family Planning Association also has a sex education website.
Teenager & University Services: The FPAHK provides youth healthcare services which cover health checks and sex, dating and pregnancy counselling. Mother’s Choice and Caritas also offer help to young pregnant mothers. Many universities also offer birth control and sexual health checkups at a discounted price.