Beijing opened its first clinic for gays on Thursday and will provide free sexually transmitted disease (STD) and AIDS check-ups and free treatment for STD carriers for a year.
The clinic was set up by Chaoyang Chinese AIDS Volunteer Group, a non-governmental AIDS prevention organization, and the Disease Prevention and Control Center of Chaoyang District of Beijing.
The clinic, with financial support from local health authorities, will provide one-year of free check-ups for AIDS, syphilis, gonorrhea and genital herpes. Free treatment is available for each of these diseases except AIDS, said Xiao Dong, chief of Chaoyang Chinese AIDS Volunteer Group.
People confirmed to be HIV carriers will be directed to national free treatment programs and will be given free regular examinations, said Xiao.
China's free AIDS treatments covers 25,000 patients in 623 counties in 31 provinces while special child treatment is carried out on 516 patients below the age of 15 in 14 provinces.
The country has spent nearly 288 million yuan (US$36 million) on free anti-AIDS treatment in the last three years, accounting for 14.3 percent of total anti-AIDS outlay, according to the health ministry.
People need to log on to the volunteer group's website (www.hivolunt.net) and fill in an application form before going to the clinic.
Examinees will be treated anonymously and their privacy will be respected, said Xiao. They will be given a mobile phone recharge card worth 50 yuan (US$6.3) as compensation for their transport costs.
The clinic, located in the disease prevention and control center, will spread to two or three community hospitals soon in order to provide more convenient and confidential services, said Xiao.
"We will do our best to find funding so that we can continue our free examination and treatment services a year from now," said Xiao.
South China's Shenzhen city and east China's Nanjing city set up homosexual clinics in February 2004.
China's first, and most recent, official figure on male homosexuality was released in 2004, putting the total of gay men in the country at between five and ten million.
The HIV infection rate is close to 1.5 percent among sexually active homosexual men, said Zhang Beichuan, a professor with Qingdao University's Medical School.
(Xinhua News Agency October 28, 2006)