Challenging the inequalities people living with HIV/AIDS face
A story from a UN Volunteer and Programme Assistant with UNAIDS
An anxious crowd and deafening silence. People with masks are being called into a clinic cube with an ambiguous sign reading “Immune Deficiency.” This ten-square metre safe house is where people living with HIV meet. As a UN Volunteer Programme Assistant with UNAIDS in China, Weng Huiling shares their stories and fights for their rights.
Weng provides strategic information, advocacy and technical support to coordinate stakeholders to deliver comprehensive life-saving HIV service. She focuses on technical and administrative support to programmes and coordinates partners from the Government, private sector and local communities.
"I have been devoted to the field of HIV/AIDS for years, and UNAIDS has helped broaden my scope to go beyond medical care. My UN Volunteer assignment allowed me to participate in changing the underlying institutional inequality that burdens people living with HIV," she explains.
"Medical care is no longer the bottleneck in HIV response. What we need is accessible and integrated services, community leadership, an evidence-based approach and eradication of the profound inequality. Ending AIDS is possible, if we work together, like with COVID-19." - Weng Huiling, UN Volunteer Programme Assistant with UNAIDS China
In 2021, Weng joined an HIV online prevention intervention study and helped to collect data from key population group discussions and literature reviews. She also used her clinical knowledge to contribute to a cost-effective study on antiretroviral treatment to inform governmental policy prioritization. "I am glad that I could help strategic and technical programme management and participate in discussions on effective, evidence-informed and targeted HIV response," she adds.
"Despite remarkable progress in diagnosis and treatment, people living with HIV are still shackled by discrimination and stigmatization, which can only be overcome by collective inclusiveness. Our goal is to end AIDS as a public health threat by 2030." - Weng Huiling
With UNAIDS, Weng has been able to tell the untold. During this year’s Zero Discrimination Day campaign in March, she led five poster exhibition tours and over ten hours of group discussion for more than 60 visitors from UN agencies, schools and universities, and community-based organizations.
She also worked on connecting funding opportunities and the Beijing LGBT Centre for a peer group programme on HIV. The programme, which aims to provide People Living with HIV with group consultations and educational programmes, is now being implemented with an estimated 1,000 influenced population.
"I was so impressed by the five portraits of people living with HIV. Their stories touched my heart. Our mindset towards people living with HIV, sex education and fragile population needs to be revolutionized." -Rita, a visiting student from Renmin University of China
UNAIDS plays a pivotal role in mobilizing China’s political, technical and financial resources through South-South Cooperation and China-Africa Collaboration.
Accordingly, at the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) meeting in late 2021, Weng organized a virtual dialogue on China-Africa Health Cooperation, jointly hosted by UNAIDS and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. She drafted outcome documents that served for FOCAC in November, emphasizing a joint commitment to local production and multilateral cooperation.