The Chinese city government of Dali has opened a state-funded gay bar to tackle HIV infections.

The city, in the southwestern Yunnan province, is one of the ten Chinese cities most affected by HIV and sex between men is thought to account for one third of transmissions.

In an interview with the Beijing News, founder Zhang Jianbo said the bar would be a meeting place for men who live in rural villages.

He added it would hand out free condoms and sex education. It will be staffed by volunteers.

Jiang Anmin, deputy director of health in Dali, told the paper: “Each year, the Dali city government spends 20,000 yuan on treatment drugs for AIDS. So if our bar succeeds in reducing transmission, our 120,000 yuan will be well-spent.”

The newspaper reported that it had received some letters from readers complaining that the state-funded bar was a waste of money and would “promote” homosexuality.

However, one gay outreach group told Reuters that publicity around the opening of the bar could have an adverse effect if people were too frightened to enter it.