China Opens Gay Clinic

The Chinese government has opened a health clinic for gays - the first of its kind in the Communist country - amid a growing HIV/AIDS crisis.

The clinic will have a one year test period, after which its effectiveness will be judged. It will provide free HIV tests and treatment for the virus and for other sexually transmitted diseases the Xinhua news agency reports.

The clinic will be run by the Disease Prevention and Control Center and an HIV/AIDS volunteer group in the Chaoyang District.

The country has spent nearly $36 million on AIDS treatment in the last three years. but it has come under criticism from the West for lagging in HIV/AIDS education.

The Joint UN Program on HIV/AIDS, or UNAIDS, has warned that up to 10 million people in China could be infected by 2010 without more aggressive prevention measures.

A report issued in March by China's Ministry of Health showed that only about 30 percent of the country's college students have a full understanding of HIV/AIDS.

It is estimated there are 48 million gays in China.

Gay life is mainly underground and the government has had a mixed relationship with the community.

In June it began a "clean-up" of gay Web sites. China's government controlled internet domain-name registration company shut down several popular gay Web sites under what the paper said was pressure from police.

Two of the sites disseminated HIV/AIDS information and allowed people to discuss coming out.

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