Liberation"，installed in Christopher Park, is a life-size bronze
sculpture by George Segal that depicts two same-sex couples, female
Beijing's first clinic for gay people, also China's first to provide
free services, opened Wednesday, providing checkups for all sexually transmitted
Xiao Dong, head of the Chaoyang Chinese AIDS Volunteer Group, said
free treatment would be given
to STD carriers, and confirmed HIV carriers would be introduced to
national free treatment programmes.
People wanting checkups should log on to the group's website
(www.hivolunt.net) and fill in an application
form before going to the clinic. More than 500 people
signed up yesterday.
"As China marches on, so do its medical services. We hope this
programme will underline the common medical rights enjoyed by gays," Xiao
told China Daily yesterday.
Patients will be treated anonymously, and their privacy will be
respected, Xiao said. Moreover, they will be given a mobile phone card
worth 50 yuan (US$6.25) as compensation for their transport costs.
The non-governmental organization will need more financial support as
more people participate.
"Medical treatment costs will be much higher than the original budget
can cope with, as most people signing up are disease carriers already. We
were initially expecting the majority to simply want checkups," said Xiao.
The STD and AIDS Prevention Centre, run by the China Centre for Disease
Control and Prevention, and the Chaoyang District Centre for Disease
Control and Prevention (CDC) provided the start-up funding.
The clinic, located in the Chaoyang CDC, will expand to three community
hospitals, including the nearby Shibalidian Township Hospital, the Asian
Games Village Hospital in the north and another new one to be built, to
provide convenient and confidential services.
In August, the Chaoyang CDC opened a gay forum on its website, the
first of its kind with official support.
"The forum reflects the progressive posture taken by some officials,"
Zhao Zheng, a volunteer at the clinic, said: "Things related to
homosexuality are quite accepted among younger people in China. As our
society becomes more mature, it is becoming more magnanimous."
China's free AIDS treatments cover 25,000 patients across the country.
The country has spent nearly 288 million yuan (US$36 million) on the
sector in the past three years, accounting for 14.3 per cent of the total
anti-AIDS outlay, the Ministry of Health said.
The only official figure for male homosexuality was released in 2004,
putting the total number of gay men at between 5 and 10 million.
But Xiao said the number may actually be between 10 and 50 million,
though a number of homosexuals marry women and have children. The figure
in Beijing is around 300,000, 2 per cent of whom are HIV carriers, he