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Japan reported 9,953 HIV cases and 4,671 AIDS cases as of August 2008, of which 6,503 HIV and 3,002 AIDS cases were in the Kantō region (which hosts about one third of Japan's population). In December 2009, the World Health Organization reported the number of HIV cases in Japan to be at least 17,000. This equates to roughly 0.01% of the population of Japan, one of the lowest ratios of reported HIV in the world.
Independent research has suggested that actual infection rates may be much higher, especially amongst the young.
During the 1980s, HIV-tainted blood products were used in Japanese hospitals, particularly for the treatment of hemophiliacs. The estimated figure of hemophiliacs inadvertently infected with HIV through tainted blood is 50%.
In 1989, hemophiliac groups brought up lawsuits against the Ministry of Health and Welfare and several drug companies. Particular controversy centered on centers who continued use of non-heat-treated blood products after heat-treatment methods had been developed to prevent spread of infection.