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AIDS Rampant Among Beijing Gays

The transmission of HIV/AIDS among gays in the Chinese capital was even worse than through sex workers, the city's disease control center said on Friday.

Up to 5 percent of homosexuals in the city were infected, compared with 0.5 percent of women sex workers, said He Xiong, the Beijing Centers of Diseases Control and Prevention deputy director.

He attributed the HIV/AIDS increase among gays to the lack of protection measures during sex.

Some gays don't have due knowledge on HIV/AIDS, while condoms were used in less than half their sex acts, he added.

Despite society's increasing tolerance to homosexuals in recent years, discrimination against them still exists. Gays usually kept their sexual orientation secret, making it difficult to improve awareness of the disease among them.

Beijing authorities examined 1 million blood samples between January and July and found 563 people infected. Among them, 118 were permanent residents of the city, according to He.

The percentage of infections from mother to baby, from blood products and needle sharing among drug addicts had dropped, a sign of the city's prevention efforts.

While the prevalence of AIDS in China remains low compared with the total population, the situation is very serious in several provinces affected by drug trafficking and illegal blood donation.

China had registered about 214,000 HIV cases by July 30 last year, but many HIV-positive people were still not registered as having the disease, officials said.

According to the last major survey in 2005 by the Ministry of Health, Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) and World Health Organization (WHO), the number of people suffering from HIV in China was estimated at 650,000.

(Xinhua News Agency September 5, 2008)

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