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Beijing Offers Free AIDS Consultation

The capital is busy 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 closed yesterday and will soon take up the posts, said He Xiong, vice-director of the center.

He said people who have health concerns can come to the service stations and consult 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 outpatient centers will be treated with the strictest confidence.

The outcome of an HIV test, identified by a certain code rather than by the name of the examinee, can be made available the same day.

Positive outcome

But if the outcome is positive, a further test will be required to confirm this, said He.

In June this year, the municipal government issued a notice on free AIDs consultation and examination, which stipulates that local governments will support those who cannot afford the follow-up tests.

He said his centre has already set up such an outpatient service station and the other 18 services at district and county levels will soon be established.

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 initially be available at the 19 outpatient services.

People can call the station at 6223-8683 for further information, said Lu.

Besides free consultations and examinations, the capital city will also provide free anti-HIV drugs to AIDS patients and HIV sufferers, according to the Beijing Health Bureau.

The bureau has designated Ditan Hospital and You'an Hospital as free AIDS treatment hospitals, which are responsible for the clinical side of free AIDS treatment.

Statistics from the bureau show that by 2003, Beijing had discovered 1,648 cases of people infected with HIV and AIDS. Experts believe that the actual number is far higher than that.

Among the 1,648 cases, 338 are native Beijingers, 1,215 are originally from other provinces and 95 are foreign nationals. The epidemic situation is ranked seventh nationwide.

 (China Daily August 13, 2004)

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