United Nations Calls on All to Join Hands in the Fight Against HIV/AIDS Discrimination

Coinciding with the twenty-third World AIDS Day celebration, “Absolute Distance” Art Exhibition and the Positive Commitment Award and Pioneer Awards Ceremony were held in Beijing

BEIJING, Nov. 29, 2010 /PRNewswire-Asia/ -- Over three hundred guests gathered at the Beijing Caochangdi International Art Village yesterday to celebrate the launch of a groundbreaking art exhibition, “Absolute Distance.” “Absolute Distance explores the relationship between people and HIV/AIDS: the feelings, coping mechanisms and internal dialogue when confronted with this disease,” explained Ms. Zhang Bing, the exhibition curator. Coinciding with the twenty-third World AIDS Day celebration,  “Absolute Distance” was designed to decrease the discrimination towards People Living with HIV (PLHIV) by showcasing the artwork created during the “Charity: from Noun to Verb” project.

“Art is a great way to express feelings and ideas,” said Silvia Morimoto, UNDP China Deputy Country Director. “It is a window through which people learn, understand and discover truth. We hope this project has helped shed light on the topic in a unique way and will continue to lead to further support and understanding. We are ready to provide a unique platform for the government, social organizations, artists and other groups who care about HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment to fight against the AIDS.”

“Charity: from Noun to Verb,” a pilot program started in early 2010, sent Chinese artists to the Guangxi, Yunnan and Shanxi provinces to explore and experience the daily lives of PLHIV. These artists lived with families in the communities and gained insight into the daily triumphs and challenges facing the PLHIV community.

The contemporary artists used their experiences to interpret and transform disease, discrimination and life into artwork. With a new perspective, they were inspired by everyday life and a better understanding of the PLHIV community. Seventeen pieces were displayed at the exhibition and reflected the individual artists’ views and impressions.

Ms. Liu Liqing, Chief Representative from Marie Stopes International China, an event partner, said, “The epidemic has not been eradicated, although the overall prevalence of HIV/AIDS remains low in China. It is not a challenge that an individual or single country faces, but an issue that involves every person from every country around the world. We hope our work with the PLHIV community, contemporary artists and their curators, and practitioners from the HIV field will create a healthier, more diverse and harmonious society.”

Zhang Wenkang, former Minister of Health and Head of Chinese Association of STD and AIDS Prevention said: “Seeing so many artists go to the PLHIV community, I feel very inspired as they are using art to raise social awareness of the AIDs.”

Dr. Wu Zunyou, from National Center for AIDS/STD Control and Prevention called on the HIV/AIDS patients to stand with their heads held high and not to feel inferior: “You are the same with any other people who are not affected with HIV/AIDS. We hope to decrease the social discrimination related HIV/AIDS and make a better society.”

Following the exhibition launch, the Positive Commitment Award and Pioneer Awards were awarded to those individuals who have greatly contributed to PLHIV community. Organizations and government departments were also recognized for their contributions to the development of community based organizations in affected areas.

Several of the participating artists attended the event, including Xiang Jing, Shen Shao Min, Li Yi Fan, Song Dong and others. Representatives from government agencies, United Nations agencies including UNDP, UNAIDS, non-governmental and international organizations and college volunteers attended in support.

Source: United Nations Development Programme