Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Chinese NGOs Important in Fighting Spread of AIDS

Among the Chinese gay community, non-governmental organizations play an indispensable role, fulfilling the role governments usually play, said Gao Yongjun, an official with Tianjin's disease prevention and control center.
"The volunteers, often gay themselves, are better than government workers at approaching and convincing gays to practice safe sex," said Gao.
In 2010 alone, the Shenlan group provided care for 160 HIV/AIDS-positive gays and extended their prevention network to over 5,000 male homosexuals.
The continuous efforts of these groups are credited with raising awareness levels of safe sex among the gay population.
Still, even as the NGOs boost condom-use and help save lives, contributing to a better society, its members still suffer discrimination. Most of the gay groups, fearing publicity, operate in secret.
Traditional Chinese culture is family-based, with emphasis on marriage and offspring, and so homosexuals remain an alienated group under constant pressure, according to Zhang.
For many of the volunteers, some of whom are "closet homosexuals" or HIV/AIDS-positive themselves, their biggest fear is the possibility of encountering family members or acquaintances when performing their group's work.
[If an item is not written by an IRMA member, it should not be construed that IRMA has taken a position on the article's content, whether in support or in opposition.]

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