China / Society

Gay stigma hindering HIV prevention in China

(Xinhua) Updated: 2015-12-01 11:07

Gay stigma hindering HIV prevention in China

An HIV positive patient, not pictured, receives a blood pressure test in Weishi county, Central China's Henan province in this Nov 30, 2015 file photo. [Photo/Xinhua]

HAIKOU - "Even if it's positive, you can still lead a normal life with treatment," said a doctor trying to calm Wang Nan as he prepared to take a HIV test on Monday, the eve of World AIDS Day.

"If positive, people will know I have AIDS because I'm gay. It will be worse than death," said Wang, who is using an alias for privacy, in a hospital in Haikou, south China's Hainan Province.

The few minutes before the test paper came back negative seemed a lifetime to Wang, who said he is more afraid of people knowing he is gay than of the virus.

Therein lies a problem that many campaigners believe is a big contributor to a recent rise in the rate of HIV infections among gay men.

According to AIDS prevention activist Zhang Jinxiong, "Many gay people in China are forced to have more risky and haphazard relationships as stigma prevents them from keeping long-term partners. To curb the spread of HIV, China needs to stem discrimination against gay people."

The key point is that attaching stigma to homosexuality encourages covert, risky homosexual behavior often without access to medical help and education.

"A large number of gay people who had risky sex resist HIV tests because they lack awareness or feel ashamed. Some even use marriage as a cover for their sexuality, putting their spouses at risk," said Damien Lu, a blogger on, one of China's top gay websites.

Wang had long wanted to take a test but he could never muster enough courage until Monday, when myriad media reports reminded him that men who have sex with men (MSM) are the most vulnerable to HIV in China.

Previous Page 1 2 Next Page

Hot Topics