PETA activists are notorious for publicly throwing flour and eggs at those celebrities and fashion icons who dare wear fur or animal products to make a statement. Activists, no matter what the cause, usually go all out to make their stance known, no matter what the legal or financial costs. One AIDS activist in China risked it all when she left her home to attend Beijing’s World AIDS Day despite being on house arrest.
Li Xige, who has been HIV positive since 1995 due to a blood transfusion after her daughter’s birth, was able to escape her house unnoticed by the two policemen who guard her home; however, police were able to hunt her down in Beijing. Li told an interviewer, “Four (local) police and one township official took me on the train and accompanied me home.” While Li is allowed to leave her home when she wishes, she is never unaccompanied by trailing police and she is forbidden to visit high-profile cities like Beijing. Why the escape to Beijing then? Li is a strong voice behind the movement to grant compensation to those people who, like herself, became infected with HIV through blood transfusions, and she wanted to lend her voice to an official event for World AIDS Day.
For World AIDS Day in Beijing, which was held at the Bird’s Nest stadium erected for the 2008 Olympics, a gigantic red ribbon was revealed to the attendees. The red ribbon serves as a promise by the United Nations AIDS organization and Chinese health officials to work at overcoming the shame that befalls those Chinese people afflicted with the virus. In addition to attending the World AIDS Day, Li escaped to Beijing to attempt contact with the Supreme Court since the court where she lives is not willing to listen to her case. Li is fighting for reimbursement from the hospital that is responsible for infecting her with HIV through the transfusion.
For years, health and political leaders in China had denied that AIDS was an epidemic. More recently, however, they have acknowledged that AIDS is, indeed, a global problem that needs to be addressed and overcome. Politicians have pushed for AIDS testing to be anonymous, for free treatment for those who cannot afford it and for a ban on any HIV/AIDS-related discrimination. Despite these public promises, however, AIDS activists cannot be too vocal or risk being sent to jail.
Li is no stranger to the threats and detainment that come from being too vocal in her quest. She has been living under house arrest for over 2 and a half years (July 2006); after an attempt to petition the Ministry of Health, she was put on house arrest. Li is vocal about her situation not only because she is a victim, but because her two daughters are victims of the tainted blood transfusion. Her first daughter contracted AIDS through being breastfed by her mother and died before her 10th birthday. Her other daughter was also stricken with the virus.
Tags: activist, AIDS, Beijing, blood-transfusion, china, HIV, world-aids-day