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Free HIV Tests for Guangdong Gay Men

A local official in the southern province of Guangdong said Tuesday that a month-long program offering gay men free and confidential HIV tests began on May 10 and is planned to be repeated on an annual basis.

Jin Jianxing, a Guangdong Provincial Center for Disease Control official, told China Daily that confidentiality is a priority and that test results would not be passed on to anyone else.

Until June 10, gay men based in Guangdong can send anonymous blood samples by mail to the center's AIDS Prevention and Treatment Institute and can even receive test results online if they prefer. Alternatively, they may attend the center in person to talk to doctors face-to-face.

The move is aimed at helping the province study and research the spread of HIV/AIDS among its gay population in order to better inform initiatives to reduce it.

The center is also offering free examinations and tests for hepatitis, syphilis and other sexually transmitted infections for gay men during the one-month period, said Jin.

Local authorities are planning to establish an AIDS working committee by the end of the year to keep track of all people with HIV/AIDS in the province. It will seek international cooperation and overseas financial support over the next few years.

The total number of people in Guangdong known to have AIDS was 5,051 at the end of last year, but Jin estimated that as many as 30,000 may have HIV/AIDS in all.

Last year alone, 191 people were newly diagnosed as HIV positive in the province, and the total is expected to increase.

Guangdong now has the fourth largest number of registered people with HIV/AIDS in China, after Yunnan Province, Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.

(China Daily May 18, 2005)

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