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Beijing Provides Free Physical Check-ups for Gays
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More than 200 gay men received a free check-up in a hospital in northern Beijing on Sunday.

The examination was organized by the Chaoyang Chinese AIDS Volunteer Group, a non-government organization in Beijing.

Information about the free medical examinations was posted on a website for gays, www.hivolunt.net, a week ago, according to Xiao Dong, chief of the volunteer group.

The check-up mainly targeted sexually transmitted diseases and AIDS. To ensure privacy, examinees were each given a card with numbers and passwords so that they could easily retrieve their results on the website.

Psychological consultants were in attendance at the examination site.

Most people were in their 30s, with a sprinkling of older people and college students.

Xiao did not identify the hospital but said it was a private hospital. "We wanted to carry out the examinations in public hospitals, but they turned us down saying they were too busy," he said.

According to Xiao, the Chaoyang Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that co-organized the exam will also distribute 50,000 "rainbow cards" in places like gay pubs. The cards entitle the holder to four boxes of condoms each month.

In 2004, China put 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 April 17, 2007)

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