China: Xiaoliang Li

Only by understanding why people do certain things, and with their genuine needs as the point of departure, can we change behavior and thinking, and effectively contain the spread of Aids.”

— Xiaoliang Li

Li Xiaoliang is Associate Professor of Preventive Medicine at Junming Medical College, and a specialist at the Yunnan Health and Development Research Center. From 1989 she has been giving extensive training on the prevention and control of Aids. Not only has she worked on training materials for teachers, she has also developed peer training for young people, and aroused much public concern on issues of health and sexuality. Such work represents is a breakthrough in a society where sex and Aids are taboo subjects.

In 1989 there were many HIV carriers in Yunnan Province. Li Xiaoliang realized the importance of focusing on the prevention of Aids, improving the public’s knowledge, and giving special attention to youth sex education. Most people at that time were either afraid of Aids or too embarrassed to talk about it. Teachers too were afraid to talk to students about the use of condoms. Li and her colleagues did some research, had discussions with teachers, and did a survey in the school. They found out that most students were not unfamiliar with the condom. This gave them the impetus to break through the "forbidden zone" in Yunnan’s middle schools and start sex education, setting a good precedent for their future work. Li also organized performances in schools on the subject of drugs and Aids. These were directed and enacted by the students themselves, attracted many parents, and served as a good public education program. "Little Duck," a young student, was Li’s working partner when she implemented “peer education” to prevent Aids in some middle schools in Kunming. He acted as the master of ceremonies when the United Nations Children's Fund came to visit the school, showing the visitors how young Chinese were determined to avoid drugs and Aids. He set a good example to others by embracing HIV carriers in the village. Li was encouraged by the younger generation who had taken it upon themselves to spread knowledge about Aids. Li has always had original ideas; her practical experience in the field enables her to propose feasible recommendations and working methods, from both macro and micro perspectives.

Yunnan Medical University