On November 28th, as World AIDS Day approached, Beijing Love Without Borders Foundation held a seminar on “Healthy China: Rainbow-Friendly Healthcare Scheme”. China LGBT Health Status Report (Phase 1) (hereinafter referred to as Report) was released, revealing the problems LGBT community is encountering currently in healthcare. “Rainbow-Friendly Healthcare Scheme” was launched in the event, aiming at enabling everyone to access equal, effective and attainable health care by reducing and eliminating discrimination against LGBT and people living with HIV during medical attention, urging medical institutions to create a friendly healthcare environment, and increasing their sense of gain. Kong Lingkun, Chairman of Love Without Borders Foundation, sociologist and professor Li Yinhe, and Dr. Zhou Kai, officer of UNAIDS in China, spoke at the conference.
“I’m a deaf gay infected by HIV,” the press conference commenced with an opening speech by a LGBT representative named Xiao Ling. He spoke out about his own experiences after being infected by HIV, making the entire audience sigh with emotions. As stated in the Report, LGBT community, usually neglected by the mainstream society, was the most marginalized and vulnerable group. Take healthcare for instance, LGBT had limited access to both the matching health service and effective support, and even faced with a great deal of misconceptions and discrimination.
The Report showed that, with regard to healthcare, 61% LGBT worried about being treated differently by medical staff. In addition, 42% LGBT outspoke that they would not and never disclose their own sexual orientation or gender identity. Once medical staff learned these people’s sexual orientation or identity, the latter would stand a good chance of facing more difficulties. Besides, 46% interviewed said they were treated differently after confessing their LGBT identity. Furthermore, 38.1% HIV patients declared they received confirmatory HIV result without full counselling and explanation.
Dr. Zhou Kai, officer of UNAIDS in China, complimented the report and remarked, “this report evaluates LGBT’s health needs with both qualitative and quantitative methods, fills the gap well, and the current HIV/AIDS research necessitates study on such group to strengthen understanding.”
Mr. Li Zhijun, Chief Medical Officer of China office of Global AIDS Program, US Center for Disease Control and Prevention, felt shocked by the Reportand said, “The Report was first hand material obtained by nongovernmental welfare organization through LGBT community, mirroring LGBT’s real plea for healthcare, which was missing in the previous investigations by professional organizations.” For example, as unveiled in the Report, the infected people took confirmatory HIV reports without full counselling and emotional support. “It worries people. Counselling after HIV confirmation is of great importance to HIV patients, but why our local medical institutions fail to do it? That is the part the healthcare departments shall pay more attention to and improve continuously in the future.”
“Zero discrimination against HIV/AIDS shall not remain at the slogan level,” stressed Kong Lingkun, Chairman of Beijing Love Without Borders Foundation. Zero discrimination meant pondering how we could ensure its implementation by each level of medical institutions in ways of adjusting regulations, improving service contents and procedure, enhancing knowledge reserve, refining inquiry skills, offering emotional support, providing adequate, attainable and effective information, and creating a safe and friendly environment.
Although LGBT community is faced with a number of problems in healthcare, Kong Lingkun expressed optimism, “here comes an excellent opportunity for us to render active improvement to LGBT community’s health”. Both UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and Healthy China 2030 Blueprint mentioned the vision of everyone enjoying high-quality and high-efficiency health service and health security in the future, and Kong Lingkun believed “the well-being of Healthy China ought to include and benefit LGBT community who has been neglected and marginalized for a long time, and it needs the whole society to care about and assist the vulnerable groups”.
“We believe there are medical staff with good attitudes and upholding morality and justice,” Love Without Borders Foundation would, in the future, spread “Friendly Healthcare conception” in the field of medical care and public health, and discover, select, mark and promote rainbow-friendly doctors, conduct continuous education for medical staff, help them get more understanding of LGBT and people living with HIV, and improve their knowledge level and service ability so as to provide more equal, more friendly, more effective and more attainable medical services.
Professor Li Yinhe, the famous scholar, attended the conference and gave a themed speech on Review of Relationship between HIV/AIDS and Homosexuality in China from viewpoint of sociology. Particularly, she sorted difference between China and foreign countries in attitudes towards treatment of and historical practice changes of HIV/AIDS and homosexuality, at a great length. Li Yinhe mentioned, “Objectively speaking, HIV/AIDS is a factor causing people to notice the living condition of homosexuality. However, because of this, some people complain homosexuality subject is tied to HIV/AIDS. Every time the media speaks about homosexuality, it must be HIV/AIDS they are talking about, and that is a sad link.” She voiced that 70% gay in China would enter a heterosexual marriage, and a lot of homosexuality often covered their true gender identity by entering a marriage. She added, “in the past, if a gay got married, it was only the torture of an unhappy marriage that his wife suffered from. However, nowadays, it is HIV/AIDS that the wife is potentially threatened by.”
Li Yinhe pointed out that homosexuality usually had their own families with both homosexual relation and heterosexual relation due to the different cultural, traditional and social ideas in China, troubling greatly the prevention and treatment of HIV/AIDS. Because rectal tissue was vulnerable to damage, homosexuality bore higher risk of infecting HIV than heterosexuality did. Owing to such cultural background, “prevention and treatment within homosexuality is a problem not just within the homosexuality group but also involves everyone.” Li Yinhe called on, “the only right attitude and effective measures are to oppose discrimination against homosexuality and raise homosexuality’s awareness of HIV/AIDS prevention. For the discrimination against homosexuality, it does not only hurt homosexuality but also harms the whole society.”
Translated by Liu Xinxin
Beijing Love Without Borders Foundation
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