Chinese Good Will Ambassador Jiang Wenli, Combats HIV/AIDS


On the screen, she is a brave policewoman or a miserable widow, while in reality, she has other identities: Good Will Ambassador of the Ministry of Health on HIV/AIDS and member of the Leadership Council of the Global Coalition on Women and AIDS (GCWA).

Jiang Wenli, famous Chinese actress who has starred many prime-time TV series, will attend the meeting of the GCWA and the International Women's Summit slated for early July in Nairobi, Kenya and have site visits there.

Jiang previously attended similar meetings in Thailand and Britain. "From the exchanges, we can learn each other's experience in the fight against AIDS," she said.

Jiang started her job as a Good Will Ambassador in 2003 together with several other singers and actors.

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"I knew little about AIDS at that time when officials with the Ministry of Health approached me," the actress was frank. Theme of the World AIDS Day that year was "women and HIV/AIDS". She was told later that the Ministry also asked some other actresses but were turned down because of apprehension of prevalent bias.

Thus Jiang learnt her first lesson on the importance of promoting AIDS-related knowledge among the public. "A college graduate, I live in the metropolis of Beijing and travel all over the world, yet I still have little knowledge about AIDS, let alone others."

The first HIV infected she met were a family, with whom she was arranged to take photos. The mother was infected during a blood transfusion. She later passed the virus to the father and the baby she delivered later was also tested as HIV positive.

"The mother would shed tears at the mentioning of her disease and the then 7-year-old kid, with herpes already appearing on his neck, was crying all the time," recalled Jiang bitterly.

Sitting in a car back home, Jiang was silent. "I was so sad," she frowned, "AIDS is spreading quickly and more people could be infected. It is urgent to tell them how to protect themselves from this deadly disease."

As a Good Will Ambassador, her major task is to participate in activities on each World AIDS Day and visit the infected and their families whenever she has time.

She still remembered that in 2003, when she just began the job, she flushed with embarrassment when distributing condoms in a shopping center in downtown Beijing.

Two years later, however, she finished her book Wenli on AIDS to share with readers her understanding of the disease, which used to be labeled as stigma.

And she wants to do more.

She wants to adopt an orphan left by AIDS victims, but she hasn't found a suitable one. "Many orphans are too old to adapt to a new environment," she said.

She has been planning to make a TV serial for three years to show the audience the plight of HIV infected, their families and children. She said that she will start on it after her Africa trip.

She has also an idea to set up a "celebrities' cabin", where they can donate their belongings for sale to help AIDS/HIV-affected people.

"Someday the little cabin may be developed into a charity foundation where all people can contribute to the combat against AIDS," she said.

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