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Sexual health center for young people opens
( 2003-10-25 14:30) (Xinhua)

A sexual health center for young people has opened in Qingdao, a coastal city in east China's Shandong Province.

The center, called "You and Me," which mainly offers free consultations on reproductive health, also provides services like emergency contraception and induced abortion, said Xu Jin, leader of the center.

"You and Me," the first clinic invested by the Marie Stopes International (MSI), a charity organization that aims to protect young people's sexual health, also opens a hotline on which youngsters could get free consultation service by calling 0532-5927606.

"We hope our center can help youngsters raise their awareness of reproductive health and establish an appropriate attitude towards love and sex," said Xu.

Chinese young people, aged from 10 to 24, accounted for 26 percent of the total population, or 327 million people, according to the fifth national census in 2000.

While Chinese are becoming sexually active at an earlier age, most youngsters have little access to accurate and scientific information on sex because of traditional sensitivities to the issue, which has led to increases in HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases.

"Most of the clients we received in the our first several working days are young men under 25, who are usually too shy to speak about their sexual problems and ignorance," said Xu, adding that the center received nearly 20 phone calls everyday.

"From talking to them, we were surprised to find out that mostof them don't know how to protect themselves, and that is the verypoint of our job," said Xu.

Established in London in 1975, MSI has more than 400 juvenile service centers across the world, mostly in developing countries.

"In the next few years, more service centers like 'You and Me' are expected to be found in other cities of this country," said Gao Qi, of the MSI Beijing office.

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