In a bid to halt the
rising number of people suffering from HIV/AIDS infections China is
to launch a five-year scheme in 2007 to encourage the use of
condoms among gays, said a senior official from the Chinese Disease
Prevention and Control Center (CDC).
"Prevention efforts among gays are key to the
country's control of AIDS,” said Wu Zunyou, director of the AIDS
prevention bureau affiliated to the CDC. “They need collaboration
between government departments and grassroots
The target is to raise condom usage to 70 percent,
said Wu. A survey of 526 gays in Beijing indicated only 20 percent
used condoms all the time.
Gay sex contributed to 7.3 percent of reported
HIV/AIDS cases nationwide, according to the CDC. The main causes
were drug users sharing needles and unsafe sex.
In the first 10 months of the year 39,644 people were
officially reported to have been infected with HIV, the Ministry of
Health said last week. While a total of 183,733 people had been
officially reported to have contracted HIV the ministry estimated
the actual figure at the end of 2005 was around 650,000.
The ministry also estimates that at least 1 percent of
the country's 5-10 million sexually-active gay people in the 18-49
age group have contracted HIV/AIDS.
Because of pressure within society many gays choose to
marry women. "This has led to the risk of them spreading the
disease to people around them," Wu said on Wednesday during an
online interview on www.sohu.com conducted in conjunction with
today's World AIDS Day.
Also, the CDC and the AIDS Intervention Center in
Beijing's Chaoyang District will jointly launch a project next year
on prevention through peer education among gays. The project will
be replicated in five cities every year.
It will record personal information such as age,
profession, feelings, health, condom usage and reaction towards
discrimination. Under the project free medical treatment will be
provided to gays with sexually transmitted diseases or infected
with HIV and help offered in finding jobs and fighting
Starting this month the Chaoyang District intervention
center will offer free medical checks regularly to gays in Beijing
which is reportedly home to 300,000 gay people with 3 percent of
them infected with HIV.
To promote safe sex one of the country's leading
condom-makers has launched a custom-made condom for gays. Tao Ran,
manager of Gobon Condom Factory in Guilin, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, said that
the company would employ a special marketing strategy involving gay
volunteers and online sales to promote the product.
In addition to these efforts some AIDS experts see a
more tolerant society as a cornerstone for ensuring the mental and
physical health of gays. According to Zhang Beichuan, a professor
on AIDS studies at Qingdao University many free medical projects
are shunned by gays because of social discrimination.
"If the governments are more tolerant towards them the
projects will attract more gay people for medical treatment which
in turn will benefit the whole society," said Zhang. He proposed
that legal marriages be allowed among gays and a special law
banning discrimination enacted.
A recent survey conducted by Zhang, covering 2,000
gays in nine cities, showed 60 percent of them suffer from the fact
they are gays and 10 percent were so badly affected they wanted to
take their own lives.
The reasons for contemplating suicide included broken
relationships with gay partners, social discrimination and unhappy
marriages to women.
(China Daily December 1,