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China art show to dispel HIV women prejudice
Updated: 2004-11-29 08:53

An art exhibition depicting how women living with HIV are viewed in China has opened here in a bid to dispel strong public discrimination against AIDS patients, state media said.

This 2003 photo shows former US president Bill Clinton appearing on stage with Song Pengfei, chief organizer of the 'Her Beauty' exhibition who is also HIV positive, at a symposium on SARS and AIDS in Beijing. [AFP]
Twenty-nine works are on show at the "Her Beauty" exhibition with each exhibit created by Chinese women living with HIV.

"Though the artists are not professional, their paintings will show the public how sad and lonely the people with HIV feel," said 22-year-old Song Pengfei, chief organizer of the exhibition who is also HIV positive.

A survey released by the Ministry of Health Friday found 58.9 percent of Chinese shun people with HIV/AIDS, the Xinhua news agency reported.

A key reason for the strong prejudice is that most Chinese have little understanding of AIDS.

"Social stigma, public ignorance, and fears around people with HIV are the major obstacles China faces in combating the deadly disease," said Joel Rehnstrom, country coordinator of UNAIDS China.

According to a recent United Nations report, at least 190,000 women between the ages of 15 and 49 in China have HIV/AIDS, an increase of 60,000 in the past three years.

The art exhibition will be shown in seven universities in Beijing and six in the coastal city of Qingdao in east China.

China says it has an estimated 840,000 HIV/AIDS patients although international AIDS experts say the actual number is much higher. The United Nations predicts China could have 10 million cases by 2010.

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