China the word MSM (Men Having
Sex with Men) is generally used for the male gay community. There
is a long tradition of MSM activity in China , and
it has never been against the law. However, it carries a social
stigma, especially in families and work units—and even today
people can lose their jobs if they are identified as gay—and
even more likely to lose their jobs if they are also HIV positive.
At the present time, infection among MSM’s is the fastest-growing
segment in the HIV/AIDS epidemic in
China . The gay population is thus
the most vulnerable
When Martin started the Trust’s connexions
in China on HIV/AIDS in 1996, he called on the senior
health officials in
Beijing , and was told that they had absolutely
no contact with MSM’s. They were aware that MSM’s were a high-risk
group, but they did not know how to access them. However, with
the help of UNAIDS, we heard in 1997 of the work of Professor
Zhang Beichuan in Qingdao and visited him there, and we immediately
started supporting his work among MSM’s in China. At the same
time, Billy Stewart of the EU (now at DfID) introduced us to the
gay activist group in Beijing , led by Guo Yaqi, and we supported
this group for several years.
Zhang Beichuan (middle)
In more recent times, there has been a proliferation
of gay groups around
China , and funds available
to them have increased substantially.
However, in the early years, there was no funding available. The
courageous support which Dr. Zhang Beichuan gave to the gay community
has at all times been recognized
by the Chinese government as the best and most selfless
work for MSM’s and our Trust has always given absolute priority
to our cooperation with him.
We were especially pleased that in 1998
the Ford Foundation came in to support Dr. Zhang Beichuan by paying
for his magazine “Friends Exchange”. We celebrate this year to
the tenth anniversary of this excellent Ford Foundation support.
MSM supporters in
group benefited from funding and support from the UK/China
project at an early stage, and they became a model MSM
group in China
, and represented
China at international
In the early part of the new century,
Dr. Zhang Beichuan requested our Trust to support MSM groups around
China , initially in Qingdao
, Nanjing ,
Wuhan , Chongqing and Xi’an ,
and gradually to many other cities, including
Shenyang , Dalian ,
Harbin , Anshan , Guangzhou , Fuzhou , Hefei , Taiyuan , Ningxia, Urumuqi, Lanzhou
. This remains a core activity of our Trust.
Our second core activity on behalf of MSM’s is in Beijing , where we are
working closely with the two principal infectious diseases hospitals,
the Beijing Ditan and Beijing You’an Hospitals. These hospitals
have been encouraged by the Beijing Public Health Bureau to set
an example in China of excellence in HIV/AIDS treatment and care.
The two hospitals have for several years been reaching out to
the MSM community in the capital, and have treated HIV positive
MSM’s without prejudice and confidentially. They also treat
patients from outside Beijing who come there because they offer unprejudiced
and confidential treatment, which is not so widely available around
At centre is Nurse Wang Kerong, 2004 prizewinner,
with volunteers at the hospital’s Red Ribbon Centre,
which our Trust supports
At left is the hospital’s Vice President, Dr. Huang
Chun. We are
supporting the Quiet Garden Project for HIV-positive patients
at You’an Hospital
supporting the gay group in Dali.
Our visit in February 2006 coincided
with the camellia season and we are with the leading
members of the group in the camellia
Dali old town.
A further area of our Trust’s support for MSM’s is
, where the
under Dr. Zhang Jianbo has set a particularly good example of AIDS
care. We encouraged Dr. Zhang Jianbo to find out about the MSM’s
in his area—
and he succeeded in gathering a large group of countryside MSM’s.
This project, at the Good Friends Studio and Tea Shop in Dali, is
the only important countryside project in
. Other projects are all in big cities.
Female Sex Workers (FSW’s)
Prostitution in China
has been increasing rapidly as
becomes more open. Sexually transmitted infections are very frequent
and FSW’s are given low priority. We have for some years been
supporting Qingdao Sisters Together, a project directed to the
FSW community under Dr. Li Xiufang. At the moment HIV infection
prevalence is small among the FSW’s, but the community is extremely
vulnerable because of the high prevalence of STD’s.
Trust provides funds to Dr Li Xiufang of Qingdao Medical
School and, Dr. Zhang Jianbo of Dali Peggy Health Centre to outreach female sex workers
has a special problem
with migrant workers, because men travel from the relatively poor
parts of west and central China to the
prosperous east coast and southern cities. Their wives do not
come with them and their knowledge of safe sex is limited. We
are supporting some doctors who are working in this area, for
example, Dr Gui Xi-en in Wuhan Hubei
volunteers at the Needle Exchange Centre in
City who were joint recipients
of our 2005 prize.
3rd from left is Adili Aximu who made
the speech at our 2005 prizegiving
Drugs are the original source of HIV infection in China,
coming from the border areas near
Burma , Vietnam , Kazakhstan , etc. Our work in Yunnan and Xinjiang
is very much related to the victims of drug use.