As Shanghaiist recently reported, AIDS in China continues to be a serious, rapidly growing problem. Much of the current epidemic stems from illegal blood selling in Henan Province during the mid 1990s. Dr. Gao Yao Jie , an activist for AIDS patients in Henan Province, estimates that up to1 million people are infected in Henan province alone. In spite of this, HIV/AIDS still has a reputation in China as a disease of “marginal groups” like drug users, prostitutes, and men who have sex with men. This stigma keeps many infected persons from getting tested or informing their families/friends/lovers of their condition.
Despite institutional resistance, some outside groups manage to make a tangible difference in improving the lives of those affected by HIV/AIDS, and reducing the stigma of disease.
The Chi Heng Foundation is one of them. A Hong Kong charity started by a former investment banker, the foundation focuses on educating children orphaned by the AIDS epidemic in Central China. The stories of the epidemic in central China (including Henan) are uniformly heartbreaking—stories of an entire generation of men and women, mostly farmers, shot down by the epidemic, simply for selling their blood.
The foundation sponsors the education of some 4,000 AIDS orphans throughout central China—a small minority of the 60,000 orphaned by the disease, but a hugely significant step, considering most of these children would simply have gone uneducated.
Chi Heng also sponsors AIDS awareness and prevention programs among communities of men who have sex with men (MSM)—primarily gay men and male prostitutes, in order to prevent the HIV outbreaks that decimated the MSM communities in the United States and Europe during the 1980s.
December 1 is World AIDS Day, and the Chi Heng Foundation is hosting a number of events to commemorate the holiday and raise money for their outreach efforts.
Eddy’s Bar (1877 Huai Hai Zhong Lu at Tianping Lu, 淮海中路1877号在天平路, Tel: 62820521) is holding a silent auction of socialist realism magazines and posters. Eddy’s is also holding a raffle—tickets are on sale for 10 RMB each, for prizes such as spa treatments, restaurant vouchers, and antiques.
Even if you aren’t in the generous mood (umm, why aren’t you?) Eddy’s is worth a trip in itself! It’s a really cool space, bedecked with Buddhist frescoes, mysterious lighting, and very friendly waiters. Eddy, the man himself, is super-nice. Note though that’s a predominately gay bar, so perhaps it isn’t the ideal man-woman first date place!
On World AIDS Day (this Friday!) the CHF is holding an AIDS Awareness Gala Dinner at Kathleen’s 5, on the 5th Floor of the Shanghai Art Museum, off of People’s Square. Tickets are 850 RMB. Call Kathleen’s at 63274466 ext. 17 for more information. It promises to be a fun time–Chung To, the riveting founder of the CHF, will be speaking. DJ Paul London will spinning till late. It’s a small price (okay, relatively speaking) to pay for a fun night, good food, and the chance to help people who desperately need it.
More events coming soon. Celebrate World AIDS Day by supporting the effort, if not through these opportunities, then in your own way!