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Beijing gay venues join AIDS intervention campaign
Last Updated(Beijing Time):2007-06-12 17:19
The owners of 19 popular gay entertainment venues in Beijing -- bars, massage and health centers -- are to hand out free condoms to combat the rising incidence of HIV/AIDS in the city's gay population.

The owners of the venues will distribute AIDS prevention pamphlets and advise on safe sex after signing up to the Beijing Anti-AIDS Association for MSM (men who have sex with men) Venues, which was jointly initiated on May 31 by AIDS prevention organizations in Chaoyang District.

"As far as we know, such venues are already frequented by HIV-infected gays. It would be irresponsible if we did not take urgent prevention measures," said Xiao Dong, a worker with the Chaoyang Chinese AIDS Volunteer Group.

The owners and their staff would try to educate gays on the necessity of HIV/AIDS tests as many gays were unwilling to have them, said Xiao.

The association would carry out AIDS prevention training for the owners and staff in July to teach them how to better raise AIDS prevention knowledge among gays, he said.

The city had seen an increasing number of HIV infections from sexual behavior among gays, said Ma Xiaoyan, an expert with the Beijing municipal disease prevention and control center.

"The HIV infection rate through gay sex was 1.5 percent in 2004, but it rose to 6.9 percent in Beijing last year," said Ma, whose laboratory conducts final diagnoses of HIV/AIDS cases in the city.

The age of HIV infection cases was falling, said Ma, citing the example of an 18-year-old who was diagnosed with AIDS.

Ma blamed the increase in cases on a low rate of condom use and frequent sex with multiple partners.

Xiao Dong said the number venues that had joined the association was only about half of the 39 venues he contacted. He called on more venues to sign up.

China has five to ten million gay men, according to official figures. However, some experts estimate the homosexual population is around 50 million.

The HIV infection rate is estimated at one to four percent among gay men, who are the second largest high-risk group after drug addicts.

Official statistics show that among the 650,000 Chinese living with HIV/AIDS, 44.3 percent were infected through drug injection, 10.7 percent through blood transfusions and 43.6 percent through unsafe sex.

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