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Beijing Offers Free AIDS Consultation

The capital city is setting up 19 outpatient services offering free AIDS consultations and examination, according to the Beijing Disease Prevention and Control Center.

Nearly 100 professionals have received a two-day training course that concluded on Thursday, said He Xiong, vice-director of the center.

People who have concerns about HIV/AIDS can come to the stations and speak with doctors face-to-face at no cost. The municipal government will pay the preliminary HIV test fee of 50 yuan (US$6) per person.

He guaranteed that every person coming to the consultation centers will be treated with the strictest confidence.

HIV test results, identified by a code rather than by the name of the examinee, will be available the same day. A positive result will require further testing for confirmation, said He.

In June this year, the municipal government issued a notice requiring local governments to assist those who cannot afford the follow-up tests.

The Disease Prevention and Control Center has already set up one such outpatient service center, and the other 18 at district and county levels will soon be opened.

Lu Hongyan, head of the municipal AIDS prevention and control service, said the city has more than 60 labs that can conduct HIV tests. But free consultation and examination will only be available initially at the 19 designated centers.

Meanwhile, the Beijing Health Bureau has designated Ditan Hospital and You’an Hospital as free AIDS treatment hospitals.

By the end of 2003, 1,648 HIV/AIDS cases had been identified in Beijing. Experts believe that the actual number is far higher.

Of the total cases, 338 are native Beijingers, 1,215 are originally from other provinces and 95 are foreign nationals. The epidemic situation in the capital is ranked seventh nationwide.

Additional information on the consultation and testing centers is available by calling 6223 8683.

(China Daily August 13, 2004)

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