The first China AIDS Walk marched along the Great Wall near Beijing on Saturday and raised 150,000RMB ($23,900 €18,500) for the Chinese Foundation for the Prevention of STD and AIDS.
Over 100 people took part, walking in teams or individually along the wall at Jinshanling. Fundraisers wrote messages of hope for AIDS, gave free hugs and enjoyed live music performances during the walk.
Xiaogang Wei, director of Beijing Gender and Health Education Institute and founder of Queer Comrades, had the idea for the march when he participated in the AIDS Life Cycle from San Francisco to Los Angeles two years ago. AIDS Walks have been raising money and awareness in the US since 1985.
‘We are very proud of what we did,’ said Wei to Gay Star News about Saturday’s walk, the first of its kind in China, Wei added that as well as the money raised he was pleased the walk attracted Chinese media coverage that will educate people about HIV and AIDS.
According to UNAIDS there are 780,000 people living with HIV in China, of which 17.4% were infected through gay sex. HIV prevalence among men who have sex with men (MSM) has gone up from 2% in 2007 to 5.7% in 2010 and 6.3% in 2011.
Earlier this year the government admitted that stigma and discrimination against people with HIV continues to be a problem in China. As well as raising funds, the aim of the China AIDS Walk is to educate the public about how the virus is carried.
China AIDS Walk will be annual from now on and continue to progress further along the Great Wall to inland rural China where there is even more need for education about HIV and AIDS.