Photo credit: Screenshot of the Beijing Dongcheng District video released ahead of World AIDS Day.
HIV is contagious, once infected, you’re bound to die
No vaccines and no medicines, death is right around the corner
You absolutely should not have homosexual love
Believe it or not, this is not some strange chant from a Westboro Baptist Church member. Rather, it is a series of remarks made in the form of shulaibao (数来宝 shǔláibǎo), a traditional Chinese form of rhythmic storytelling to the accompaniment of bamboo clappers. The writer of the remarks is, incredibly, Wáng Liánjūn 王联君, the head of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Beijing’s Dongcheng District.
Wang’s performance was supposed to mark World AIDS Day, December 1, which was designated in 1988 by the World Health Organization as an international day dedicated to fighting HIV, showing support for people living with the virus, and helping to reduce HIV-related stigma. Instead, Wang merely spread the stigma for the Chinese gay community, which is disproportionately at risk for HIV/AIDS.
On Weibo, LGBTQ rights advocates were quick to criticize (in Chinese) Wang’s remarks. “This is deeply offensive and misleading. How could someone like Wang become the head of the center?” one angry Weibo user wrote.
“It’s bafflingly tone-deaf for a public health institute to spread the fear of HIV/AIDS,” wrote the Beijing Queer Chorus on Weibo (in Chinese). “The disease can be prevented through scientific measures. It should not be seen as a sin or a topic of taboo. Please embrace people living with HIV with warm hugs.”