Village doctor Yin Zuluan has, over the past 21 years, provided medical services for rural residents in Guangsong Village, Dehong Dai and Jingpo Autonomous Prefecture, southwest China’s Yunnan Province. She likened herself to a screw in community-level HIV/AIDS prevention work.
In 1990, Guangsong reported the first local HIV infection. In 2005, the village was identified as a comprehensive AIDS prevention and treatment pilot and invested 150,000 yuan (about 21,060 U.S. dollars) for disease publicity and education, consultation, and basic health care for villagers.
In addition to providing daily medical services, the 49-year-old village doctor has visited almost every household in Guangsong and the nearby villages to spread HIV/AIDS prevention knowledge.
“Through years of knowledge publicity, the villagers’ awareness of AIDS and self-protection, as well as the social environment, has been significantly improved,” said Yin.
She also applied to the higher governments for project assistance to help AIDS-affected families enjoy more benefits.
In 2007, she led the establishment of an AIDS mutual care group, which has 37 members now. By carrying out activities, the infected can learn AIDS knowledge and protective measures, eliminate and reduce social discrimination, and start a new life.
In 2008, the children’s activities group was set up to help children affected by HIV/AIDS develop good living habits and health psychology, as well as enhance confidence in life and communication ability. So far 53 children have benefitted.
“As a village doctor, it’s my duty to serve patients with all my heart,” Yin said. “Nowadays, more and more village doctors are working on AIDS prevention at the grassroots, helping patients get out of plight and start a new life.”
According to the Yunnan provincial health Commission, by the end of 2021, the province had 13,588 village clinics and 31,797 village doctors and health workers engaged in AIDS prevention and treatment, AIDS knowledge publicity and education, and the service of mobilizing villagers, especially migrant workers, for HIV testing. By October 2022, Yunnan had 7,757 HIV testing sites and confirmation laboratories, covering all townships and 4,874 villages and communities.
Like the village doctor, more grassroots people and social organizations are fighting HIV/AIDS spread in east China’s Shandong Province.
Jia Xiaojun, deputy director of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of Licang District, Qingdao, a coastal city in Shandong, has devoted herself to AIDS prevention for 19 years, providing help, such as prevention and treatment consultation and publicity, for more than 500 people.
Jia, once a frontline AIDS prevention worker, pays more attention to patients’ mental state. “Sometimes the loneliness and despair are worse than the disease itself.”
In 2008, Jia led the establishment of a health mutual aid volunteer service center to provide psychological support for AIDS-infected people. “The service center has 20 members. We talk to them face to face or on the phone to help them ease anxiety and rebuild confidence in life.”
Li Hui, director of the AIDS prevention department of the Shizhong District CDC in Jinan, the provincial capital of Shandong, has been engaged in disease prevention for more than 17 years.
To popularize scientific prevention information among the public, Li set up a WeChat public account nine years ago. Almost every day after work, she will log on to the account to view and answer questions about HIV/AIDS from subscribers.
“Much of the questioner’s fear of AIDS stems from the lack of scientific information. My job is to spread as much knowledge as possible to remove people’s fear,” said Li.
Yao Jingxiang, head of the Xinjiayuan social work service center in Jinan, dedicated himself to AIDS prevention knowledge publicity eight years ago. The service center visits companies, schools, and residential communities to popularize prevention knowledge to key groups.
“The elderly are at high risk of infection. But some think AIDS is far away from them. Sometimes when we do questionnaires, they will wave their hands and decline our invitation,” said Yao. “There is still a long way to go.”
According to the Shandong provincial health commission, there are 128 social organizations in Shandong participating in AIDS prevention and treatment. In 2022, 71 AIDS prevention and treatment fund projects of social organizations passed the preliminary examination. AIDS testing laboratories in the province reached 3,036, achieving full coverage at the county level. ■