China launches safe-sex programme for gay men

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A new scheme to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS amongst gay and bisexual men is to be launched in China next month.

The Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention will this week begin collecting ideas from men who have sex with men (MSM) on the programmme.

It aims to build a national network for the sale and distribution of condoms and lubricants and make them more available to MSM.

The programme will also relax registration rules for gay advocacy groups.

HIV/AIDS advocacy groups have already begun campaigns.

The Chaoyang Chinese AIDS Volunteer Group, together with the Chaoyang CDC, provided free testing for HIV and other sexually transmitted infections to MSM in Northern Bejing on Sunday.

Men who were tested received numbers and a password to enable to access their results online.

The Chaoyang CDC also plans to distribute “rainbow cards” in gay clubs that provide the holder with four boxes of condoms per month.

Other HIV/AIDS groups are encouraged to develop educational campaigns, hotlines and community activities to raise community awareness about HIV/AIDS.

The new scheme comes in the light of recent statistics on HIV/AIDS in China. According to the Chinese CDC, the number of HIV-positive MSM has doubled since 2004, with only 10-20% of China’s estimated 20 million MSM using condoms. According to China Daily , MSM account for 7.3% of HIV/AIDS cases in the country.

The Terrence Higgins Trust have already shown a concern for the spread of HIV/AIDS in China, stating: “The number of people living with HIV in East Asia increased by one fifth between 2003 and 2005, due mostly to China’s rapidly growing epidemic.”