China: Expert Warns of Higher HIV Infection Rate Among Gay Men
October 23, 2006
Speaking recently at an anti-HIV forum in Yichang, a Qingdao University Medical School professor said ignorance of HIV/AIDS is fueling an alarming increase in infections among gay men in China. "The health authorities have to do something to curb the rising infection rate among gay men, who account for 2-4 percent of the sexually active adult male population," said Zhang Beichuan.
A 2005 UNAIDS report said only 15 percent of sexually active gay men in Beijing knew they were at risk of contracting HIV. In an earlier report, 80 percent of Chinese gay men surveyed admitting knowing nothing about the disease.
In his recent study in a northeast city, Zhang found that only 20 percent of 215 gay Chinese men surveyed used condoms, and 90 percent dismissed any likelihood of having HIV. And because Zhang said "about half of them were college graduates," a lack of education cannot be blamed. Making the matter even more dangerous, many gay men in China feel forced to enter heterosexual marriages, Zhang said.
Zhang praised the recent decision of the Disease Prevention and Control Center of Beijing's Chaoyang district to launch a "Forum for Comrades" targeting gay men on its Web site. "It's a sign that homosexuals have begun to be accepted by the public. It will also help protect this vulnerable group from HIV/AIDS," he said.
"Regardless of what people think, homosexuality is an inevitable social issue we have to face," said Shi Wei, a Chaoyang health official.
Xinhua News Agency
This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.