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China launches
HIV prevention group for gay men

China launches
HIV prevention group for gay men

Health leaders say group provides gay men with essential information on safer sex.

Xiao Dong, an HIV activist in Beijing, has launched a new group that works to promote HIV prevention and safer sex among gay and bisexual men in China's capital, The China Daily reports. The organization, founded in May 2005, now has 43 members, most of whom are gay men. They visit gay bars and other gay venues in the city to talk with patrons about HIV and how to protect themselves from the disease. "Our mission is to spread the word on AIDS among gay men, a topic that has been hiding in the closet for a long time," Xiao told the newspaper. "It is quite urgent that we give gay men the basics on how to prevent AIDS."

Although homosexuality is not illegal in China and the country in 2001 removed it from a list of mental disorders, social taboos against homosexuality remain strong, and gay men face high levels of stigma and discrimination, Xiao says. This prevents them from seeking information about safer sex or accessing condom distribution programs for fear of being publicly identified as gay. (The Advocate)

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