MSM Attending College in Beijing Who Undergo Voluntary HIV Counseling, Testing Will Receive Money, Free Medical Care
Men who have sex with men and are enrolled in Beijing universities recently have been offered 50 yuan, or about $6.50, and free medical care if they agree to undergo voluntary HIV counseling and testing under a program officially launched Tuesday, China Daily reports. The program will be funded with 100,000 yuan, or about $13,000, from the National Center for AIDS/STD Prevention and Control and the advocacy group Rainbow.
The program aims to reach about 600 students with the goal of raising awareness about HIV and other sexually transmitted infections and to gain more information about the culture of MSM on college campuses. The program is part of a national effort to connect community-based organizations for MSM with hospitals, Xiao Dong, who leads Rainbow, said. The program is open only to sexually active MSM attending college in Beijing, China Daily reports.
Participants will fill out questionnaires and then have blood samples taken at a private hospital that specializes in STI treatment. Participants then will go to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Beijing's Chaoyang district for screening and checkups. The participants will have to show student identification cards, but information will be kept confidential. Xiao said that many students are unaware of HIV prevention methods and added that the program should "make the students comfortable with their sexual orientation" (Shan, China Daily, 9/20).
HIV/AIDS Cases Increase in Beijing
In related news, Beijing registered 563 new HIV/AIDS cases in the first six months of this year, up 50% from the same period in 2006, Zhao Tao, head of disease control and prevention for the Beijing Municipal Health Bureau, said Thursday, Xinhua/China Daily reports. The majority of new cases were among young and middle-aged men. Among the new cases were 120 Beijing residents, 432 Chinese from other areas and 11 foreigners, Zhao said. Beijing in June had registered 4,253 HIV/AIDS cases since 1985. City health officials are supporting education programs aimed at preventing new HIV infections among residents, Xinhua/China Daily reports (Xinhua/China Daily, 9/20).
Chinese officials earlier this month reported 18,543 new HIV cases and 4,314 new AIDS cases in the country during the first half of this year. In addition, 2,039 people died of AIDS-related causes during the same time period, Han Mengjie, assistant to the director of the office with AIDS Control Work Committee of the State Council, said (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 9/10). According to Han, HIV is spreading from high-risk groups to the general public (Xinhua/China Daily, 9/20).