A bar for homosexual clients is scheduled to officially open today, on World AIDS Day, in southwest China's Yunnan Province. The establishment is sponsored by the local government, and run by a grassroots organization.
Dressed like a woman, 25-year-old Mr. Liu awaits his partner, Mr. Mai, who is 37 and married.
Liu and Mai are gay. But in this bar for homosexual customers, they don't have to conceal their preference. The establishment may look rather plain on the outside, but it doesn't provide alcohol, and runs on government funding.
In this photo, Zhang Jianbo is teaching a group of gay people to inflate condoms, an exercise aimed at making them more comfortable with the protective items. Zhang is a doctor who has been working in HIV/AIDS prevention for homosexual males since 2003.
Zhang said, "We hope that the bar will help us locate and educate more gay people in the city."
Zhang says he and his friends approached the Dali municipal government and proposed building a gay bar. The local government thought it was a good idea, and decided to allocate 120 thousand yuan from the HIV/AIDS prevention fund.
Zhang said, "The first line of HIV treatment costs roughly 20 thousand yuan per year. This means the 120-thousand yuan investment is well worth it if we are able to prevent even 6 cases of HIV infection."
Figures released by the Ministry of Health and UNAIDS last Friday indicate that sexual transmission is now the number one cause of HIV/AIDS infections. More than half of new cases are related to homosexual encounters.
(CCTV.com December 1, 2009)