When Zhang was confirmed HIV-positive shortly after starting college, his family insisted on using separate chopsticks at meals, and every time he sneezed, all eyes at home would fix on him. Feeling fearful and lost, he turned to the internet for information, which only deepened his anxiety due to the prevalent misconceptions about HIV.
Fearing his classmates would discover his HIV status, Xiao Zhang withdrew from university life, cutting off contact with close friends, said the Amity Foundation. The prolonged struggle led to depression. Seeking help, he found relief through activities supported by the Amity Foundation and executed by a community service center in Wuchang District, Wuhan. Engaging in activities for HIV-infected individuals provided him with a space to release stress. Through these activities, Zhang not only healed himself but also discovered the ability to help others. He joined an HIV prevention project for youth supported by the foundation and has been continuously learning about HIV prevention as a volunteer.
Zhang bravely started sharing his story with others after receiving encouragement from social workers in the hopes of motivating and educating similar young people.
By the end of 2022, China reported 1.223 million surviving HIV-infected individuals and AIDS patients, with 107,800 new cases in 2022, including 10,700 new cases among 15- to 24-year-olds. The disease is mainly transmitted through sexual intercourse.
The project aims to unite universities, disease control centers, medical institutions, and social organizations to provide professional training for HIV prevention volunteers and personnel in the AIDS prevention and control network. They distribute health kits and develop educational tools for HIV prevention, conducting awareness programs in schools to enhance professional interventions in AIDS prevention among adolescents in hospitals and educational institutions.
- Translated by Abigail Wu