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A gay bar backed by the Chinese government for the purpose of addressing the HIV/AIDS epidemic opened in the city of Dali in the southwestern province of Yunnan on Saturday after its opening was postponed because of intense media scrutiny.
The rescheduled opening drew more than 60 people to the bar owned by HIV/AIDS prevention advocate Zhang Jianbo, according to China Daily, which reported that free condoms were distributed.
"The bar was originally scheduled to open on December 1, the World AIDS Day. But Zhang delayed it to protect the privacy of the volunteers and customers after intensive media coverage," reported China Daily.
Although gay scenes are flourishing in large cities such as Beijing and Shanghai, gay people feel less confident about coming out in smaller cities and the countryside. Dali is one of the 10 cities in China most heavily affected by HIV/AIDS, and the bar, supported by the city's health department and two nongovernmental organizations, aims to address the rising incidence of the disease by providing a space for community and education.