Advocacy groups use live broadcast to raise awareness about HIV / AIDS

As World AIDS Day draws near on December 1, several Chinese nonprofits across the country have taken to social media to promote infectious disease awareness, encouraging people to know about their health through through testing.

The Northeast Liaoning Province AIDS Relief and Health Services Consultation Center live streamed Blued, China’s largest gay dating and networking app in China, on Saturday, attracting more than 20,000 people in a three-hour session focusing on HIV / AIDS awareness. Experts and doctors addressed issues ranging from the importance of getting tested regularly to how to reduce discriminatory practices at home and at work.

In 2020, an estimated 1.05 million people were living with HIV and AIDS in China, according to the latest data from the China Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The proportion of heterosexual and homosexual transmission stood at 74.2% and 23.3% in 2020, respectively.

Ma Tiecheng, director of the Liaoning-based nonprofit, told Sixth Tone that the organization encouraged more people to take HIV tests during the year – and that their campaign appears function. The number of people taking tests through the center has increased from just 200 people per year when the organization started in 2003 to more than 3,000 today.

In the past, Ma has said they mostly approach people in public places – including parks, bars and saunas – but have since taken to social media. He added that online platforms have the potential to reach a wider population, especially younger ones.

In 2020, nearly 3,000 people aged 15 to 24 were infected with HIV in China, according to the latest white paper released by the office of the Chinese Youth AIDS Prevention Education Project and Beijing Changier. Education Foundation. While 98.6% of these transmissions were attributed to sexual intercourse, almost 82% were from men who have sex with men.

This is one of the reasons Ma uses live streaming platforms to reach tens of millions of young people. However, he added that sites present their own set of challenges, including restricting their content to multiple sites due to “sensitive” terms in their posts.

“Some of the stories that we produce are inevitably linked to sex and sexual transmission, but even if there is no pornographic description, they will always be reported or blocked,” Ma said.

Thus, the organization often turns to LGBT-specific sites, such as Blued – with additional features such as live streaming – to reach their target audiences and increase their visibility. The app also provides resources on HIV testing and has a network of nearly 7,000 testing sites in over 30 cities.

“The highest views can reach 1 or 2 million, which was unimaginable in the past,” Ma said, adding that awareness and social support can help end the stigma associated with the disease. “For the public, World AIDS Day may just be a day away. But for those living with the infection, they need support on a daily basis. Such calls are often silent and can only be heard with the heart.

Contributions: Liang Jiaqi; publisher: Bibek Bhandari.

(Header image: Volunteers share information about HIV prevention at a park in Fuzhou, Fujian province, November 28, 2021. People Visual)

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