Today (1st December 2014) is the 27th World AIDS Day.
This article is about Xiao Jian (alias), a 36 year old person living with HIV (PLHIV) living in Shanghai who was first diagnosed in 2008. Many PLHIV are afraid of losing their friends and work if their status is disclosed. But Xiao chooses to live openly with his illness. He founded the Shanghai Loving Home Mutual Assistance Group (上海爱的家园互助小组) in 2009 through which PLHIV can use their experience and knowledge to comfort other PLHIV. The group now counts 50 permanent volunteers and over a thousand members.
Xiao himself has three mobile phones, receiving phone calls and internet messages almost every day. He responds patiently to every message and call, sometimes for hours. In the space that doubles as his home and office, Xiao welcomes all PLHIV, even cooking for them and allowing them to stay overnight.
The group has promoted sex education and AIDS prevention knowledge through lectures in universities and colleges across China’s coastal provinces. The group’s AIDS testing clinics on campuses have led some students to discover that they had the illness. However, there has been a lot of resistance to these activities: often events will be cancelled by telephone just days in advance.
For Xiao medicine is the most important thing for AIDS patients. In the future, he aims to find work in the NGO management sector, using the funds gained to develop his group further.