A grassroots' response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the MSM communities in Shenzhen, China: social action theory to create the integration of prevention and care

Published: August 30, 2010

A grassroots’ response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic in the MSM communities in Shenzhen, China: social action theory to create the integration of prevention and care
H. Li1, G. Sheng2, H. Yi3

1The Chinese University of Hong Kong, School of Public Health and Primary Care, Hong Kong, China, 2Shenzhen 258 Rainbow Workgroup, Shenzhen, China, 3Columbia University and New York State Psych. Institute, New York, United States

Issues: Despite the global call for the integration of HIV prevention and treatment/care in resource-limited settings, there is a wide discrepancy in health services systems and community infrastructures between prevention and care in China. Such a dynamic creates a critical barrier for the development of an effective and sustainable community intervention for MSM.
Description: The goal of this ongoing project is to reduce the division between HIV positive and negative MSM community-based organizations (CBOs) in Shenzhen, China. We employed Social Action Theory to enhance the ability to identify and solve the problems and ultimately strength community empowerment for the MSM positive-negative community as a whole. The strategy utilized was to provide opportunities for the volunteers from both sides of CBOs to work together and share knowledge, opinions, and feelings to increase rapport and awareness of human rights for HIV-positive people.
Lessons learned: The evolving HIV negative-positive community building allowed us to effectively address health problems and achieve concrete promising outcomes. HIV-negative volunteers, with more understanding, obtained knowledge and skills of how to work with HIV-positive MSM. HIV-positive volunteers, with growing confidence and self-esteem, obtained chances to engage in social activities with HIV-negative peers; HIV-positive men better coped with self-stigmatization and self-isolation. Our project also encouraged HIV-positive MSM to be peer educators as well as to disclose their seropositive status to partners and friends. Through these activities, both are empowered and returned to their own MSM communities as responsible members fighting against HIV/AIDS.
Next steps: We will conduct life-history interviews with HIV-positive MSM about their stories of coping with the illness to develop educational materials for primary and secondary prevention interventions. This will also raise the critical consciousness facilitating our community mobilization for human rights in health equality and equity in the epidemic of China.

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