The country's first government-initiated program to
eradicate HIV/AIDS among homosexual men will enlist help of its gay
The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention
(CDC) said this week it is currently soliciting opinions on the
project to be implemented by May.
A number of measures, including special funding,
technical support and information sharing, are aimed at containing
the spread of the virus, a growing threat among China's 20 million
"It's cheering news for China's gay community, 47,000
of whom are HIV positive or AIDS patients," Xiao Dong, who heads a
Beijing-based information support group, told China Daily.
"The government is beginning to take the
long-neglected segment of people into the general roadmap to combat
the soaring pandemic," Xiao continued.
Statistics from the CDC show that the virus has been
increasingly spreading among gay men and the number of sufferers
has doubled since 2004.
More than half of gay men are believed to have
multiple sex partners and many also have female partners, which
increases the spread of HIV.
To help reduce the spread, officials hope to increase
the availability of condoms and lubricant to 70 percent of gay
Currently only 10-20 percent of them use condoms,
according to national CDC figures.
Apart from low awareness of self-protection, the lack
of condom available at gay-frequented places is also a
"Not a single condom vending machine can be found in
Dongdan Park, a well-known gay park in downtown Beijing, let alone
small and secret gay bars and bathrooms," Xiao noted.
As a result, many gays engage in unprotected sex due
to a shortage of condoms. To date, only one Guilin-based
condom-maker produces condoms tailored for gays.
Another goal of the project is to build a national
network to promote the sale and distribution of condoms and
Gay volunteer organizations should help promote condom
use and play a strong role in helping to reduce the spread of
HIV/AIDS, Xiao said.
Faced with an HIV/AIDS epidemic, China should tap more
into the country's social resources, according to the
Gay men, who constitute 7.3 percent of the total
HIV/AIDS sufferers in China, or an estimated 650,000 in 2005, will
be the first group asked to the join the effort.
There are 117 anti-HIV/AIDS grassroots organizations
for gay men, said the health ministry. Fifty percent are headed by
Peer education, a hotline and community activities are
suggested as effective ways to reach the vulnerable population.
Members of the gay community will be encouraged to play a strong
"In that way, the national war against HIV/AIDS is
more likely to win," said Jing Jun, director with AIDS Policy
Research Center at Tsinghua University.
Financial aid, training and relaxed registration rules
for organizations such as gay volunteer groups are to be put in
(China Daily April 14,