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International News

Chinese Society's Demand for Marriage May Be Helping the Spread of AIDS: Expert

March 23, 2009

Commenting on the results of a new study he led, a Qingdao University professor said Chinese society's strong expectation of marriage and its poor treatment of men who have sex with men (MSM) are forcing these men into heterosexual marriages and potentially exposing women to HIV.

"The stigma and discrimination against homosexuals in Chinese society have prevented gay men from revealing their sexual orientation or taking HIV/AIDS tests and treatments, holding back the efforts to curb the disease," said Zhang Beichuan.

"In Western countries, only a fraction of homosexuals would get into heterosexual relationships. But in China, about 70 to 80 percent of gay men had the intention of marrying a woman sooner or later," Zhang said.

In 2006, Zhang and his research team polled 2,250 MSM in nine major cities, targeting those perceived as most sexually active. About 94.8 percent reported sex with another man in the previous six months, and 20.7 percent were married to females.

The median age of respondents was 26. About half the men reported seeking strangers for sexual encounters; 18.6 percent had engaged in group sex activities; and 13.2 percent said they had paid for sex. About 22.4 percent reported experiencing STD symptoms in the preceding six months; 24.4 percent said they had been tested for HIV; and 2.2 percent said they were HIV-positive.

Zhang said the results suggest that MSM need better access to HIV/AIDS prevention interventions, and Chinese society should develop more tolerance and understanding toward gays. "In the meantime, the country should continue to promote safe sex," he said.

Back to other news for March 2009

Adapted from:
Xinhua News Agency

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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.
See Also
Chinese HIV/AIDS Organizations
More News on HIV/AIDS in China