If three days ago you happened to be having a walk down the Jinshanling section of the Great Wall of China, you’d have probably been quite surprised to see a peculiar group of people. Among them, there was a guy dressed as a wrapped condom, another one with a board reading “Hugs of love. I’m an HIV+, would you mind hugging me?” followed by a cross-dresser with heels as high as the wall itself (I’m still wondering how he’s made it all the way) and the star of the show, a blue dancing condom.
I’m pretty sure many Chinese tourists were quite shocked by some of the alternative looking members of the group but that was probably what they were looking to do – attract their attention.
The AIDS walk is a walkathon fundraiser with the purpose to combat the AIDS epidemic. The funds raised usually go to a local AIDS service organisation.
13th of October was also the Aids Walk Day in LA, which was the first city ever to hold such an event back in 1985. However, it takes place on other dates in many US states and now also in Canada and Australia.
It was the second time for China and there would just be no better place for a walk than the Great Wall!
So last Sunday, a group of over 200 people, including 50 teams of fundraisers as well as individuals and staff from US and UK embassies and LGBT activists, local and international, joined the action.
They all wore t-shirts with HIV/Aids messages and carried a big banner in an effort to promote the cause – and make it visible to the people at the other end of the wall, I guess!
There were also volunteers from the Beijing Gender Health Education Institute and China Alliance of People Living with HIV/Aids who took care of tickets, tour guidance and activities that were arranged to promote anti-discrimination of people with the virus.
One of the sponsors of the event was DKT International; an American non-profit organisation that is trying to establish a program to market and sell high-quality, affordable condoms in China.
With an estimate of around a million people living with the virus in China and HIV being one of the first causes of death by infection in the country, this was a very important event to raise awareness and remind people that protection is better than treatment.
So far, a total of 200,000 yuan has been raised and most of it will go to help people with HIV/AIDS as well as towards the anti-discrimination campaign.
One day, hopefully sooner than later, HIV positive people will be able to live a life just like everybody else and hug whoever they want to.