Shenyang (瀋陽) is the capital and largest city of Liaoning Province, the People's Republic of China. Shenyang is located on the southern edge of the Northeast Plain, connected to the Liaodong Peninsula in the south and the Changbai Mountain foothills to the north. It is located within the Bohai Rim Economic Circle and is an important hub for China's Bohai Rim region, Northeast China and the Korean Peninsula. Shenyang City currently governs ten districts, one city and two counties, with a total area of approximately 13,000 square kilometers and an urban area of 3,495 square kilometers. As of 2020, it had a population of 9.07 million, making it the largest city in Northeast China in terms of urban population.
By the end of 2016, more than 13,000 HIV cases had been reported in Liaoning, with more than 6,000 cases in Shenyang. As testing increases and high-risk groups become aware of their own health, there will be an increase in the number of HIV cases. As the AIDS epidemic in Liaoshen area continues to increase, more and more patients require antiviral treatment and hospitalization. As the Department of Infectious Diseases of the First Affiliated Hospital of China Medical University provides inpatient treatment for patients, the treatment in Shenyang City is most effective among the three northeastern provinces. Some patients from the other northeastern provinces come to Shenyang for testing and treatment, however many patients cannot return home on the same day. As Shenyang is the economic and cultural center of Northeast China, some patients choose to come to Shenyang to work whilst getting treated, but they are often unable to find a suitable place to stay. Additionally, family members of patients who come to care for hospitalized patients have no place to stay, thus they cannot provide proper care for patients.
FIREFLY CO-OP GROUP - 螢火蟲工作組
The Firefly Co-op Group is a group hoping to provide support for HIV-infected individuals in Shenyang through various different services. Their main objectives include:
1、Understand current health status and infection history of HIV patients
2、Ensure compliance with treatment plan
3、Provide a safe space for HIV patients to express their feelings about their HIV infection.
4、Provide emotional support and help to HIV patients.
5、Identify depressive suicidal thoughts and provide timely treatment and consultation
6、Understand the significance of life-threatening death to yourself
7、Long-term survivors’ career and survival plans
1、Help patients accept their HIV infection and its subsequent consequences
2、Address the guilt and shame associated with HIV
3、Increase awareness of HIV and facilitate treatment to improve the condition
4、Reduce fear, helplessness, and loneliness in HIV patients
5、Resolve feelings anger and revenge
6、Accept HIV status and participate in society without resentment
Sunshine Action volunteers with and funds the several programs run by the Firefly Co-op group.
One of the main projects Sunshine Action helps fund is the halfway house (宜仁居）project. These temporary shelters (宜仁居) provides the following services: food and accommodation services, testing appointments, volunteer opportunities, hospitalisation services, nursing services, poverty and disease relief and other services. The "宜仁居" venues is also used to carry out different events such as small peer education, childbirth self-rescue, birthday parties, small gatherings, traditional Chinese medicine treatment etc. The venues can also be used to provide a comfortable, safe and confidential communication platform for patients and their families.
With the Firefly Co-op Group, we have provided:
- Free meals to 4791 people
- Entertainment and visitations to 3682 people
- Telephone and network consultations 32,309 times
- Chinese medicine treatment 733 times
- Subsistence allowances and retired 187 people
- Surgery and hospital treatment for 853 people
- Hospital transfers for 96 people
- Policy documents for 4791 people
Red Ribbon Clinical Services - 紅絲帶門診服務
After testing positive, patients regularly visit the Red Ribbon Clinic of China Medical University for testing, follow-up, and medicine collection. Some tests must be taken on an empty stomach and can take a long time to complete. Not only have the staff and volunteers of the Shenyang Firefly Co-op Group helped resolve relevant issues raised by patients onsite, but they have also been providing "one-on-one" and "face-to-face" services to patients at the Red Ribbon Clinic. The services provided include:
Free Breakfast: Provided free breakfast service of bread and milk to infected persons and patients
Information and consultation services: Provide relevant treatment, social welfare information, and medication consultation to care recipients
Referral service: Provide referrals for treatment, coordinate hospitalization, etc. for care recipients.
Volunteer services: provide testing appointments, feedback on test results, doctor appointments, retrieve test orders, help deliver medicines, and accompany infected persons and patients.
The Firefly Working Group have provided their services to over 34,586 patients at the Red Ribbon Clinic. They have also helped handle the delivery of medicines to 5,491 patients, and provided testing services to to 365 people. Their work has prevented HIV in 1,500 people.
Prevention and Advertising
The Firefly Co-op Group also encourages HIV-infected persons to help raise awareness about HIV. The participation of these individuals in AIDS publicity, education and anti-discrimination work can help increase people's support for HIV-infected people and have a long-term effect on correcting society's misunderstandings about AIDS. Not only that, the direct participation of infected people can also hone their speaking and training skills and abilities, allowing them to gradually play a more important role in the response to AIDS.
The latest statistics show that the number of infected people in colleges and universities in Liaoning Province is increasing rapidly, as college students tend to be sexually active. If the infection cannot be detected in time, it will have a serious impact on their future employment and life. To raise awareness about HIV infection, staff and volunteers of the Firefly Co-op Group give lectures at university campuses on AIDS knowledge. HIV-infected people also give anti-discrimination lectures to reduce social discrimination against infected people. Volunteers from the Firefly Co-op Group also participated in the Liaoning Provincial Red Cross AIDS Care Project, where volunteers served as college student peer education hosts and provided relevant training for college student volunteers in many schools in Liaoning Province.
The Firefly Co-op Group also provides services for HIV-infected patients who are in poverty to help them with their HIV journey, which include providing financial aid for patients in poverty to help them improve their quality of life. The group also provides support for HIV patients to live their lifes after their diagnosis.
The diagnosis of HIV can have significant impacts on the lives of the patients. Many patients become unable to work and thus lose their jobs due to infections that were not treated in time, which can cause financial burden for patients and their families. To help with this "poverty due to illness", the Firefly Co-op Group helps patients learn various skills to increase the employability of patients. By inviting hand-knitting artists and using the "宜仁居" venues to provide hand-knitting skills training, infected people and patients can master one or several hand-knitting skills. The products created by patients are sold in charity sales held by different organisations (such as the Firefly Co-op Group, Red Cross etc.), and all proceeds go back to the HIV patients. This program not only increases the living income of patients, but can also boost psychological wellbeing through the knitting process.
The Group also carries out home and hospital visits to lift the mood of patients and reduce psychological distress, educate family members and carers about HIV, which in turn can not only strengthen the relationship between patients and their families, but can also help combat the prejudice against HIV patients.
Within society, the Firefly Co-op group also does many events and activities to raise awareness for HIV and AIDS. In addition to the lectures to university students, the Firefly Co-op group also organises talks to different members of society, and each talk is specifically designed to target a specific group within society. The Firefly Co-op Group also provides psychological support to HIV patients to reduce anger, resentment, loneliness and fear, and helps patients learn to cope with the changes that come with the infection. This in turn, can help patients re-integrate themselves within society.
In addition to Firefly Co-op Group, Sunshine Action has also donated to the following HIV Charities:
- Aids Concern 關懷愛滋
- Hong Kong AIDS Foundation 香港愛滋病基金會
- Society of Aids Care 愛滋寧養服務協會 (香港)
- SVD Mother of Perpetual Help Center (Thailand)
- PRERANA - org. by PLWHA (Nepal)
- Happy Heaven Humanitarian Project (Myanmar)
- Wangige 'Stars of Hope' HIV group (Kenya)
- Karai Pamoja HIV group (Kenya)
- Gikambura Gibra HIV Group (Kenya)
- Thogoto Gibra HIV Group (Kenya)
- Kikuyu C.A.E. group (Kenya)
- A.C.K. Gathiga HIV/AIDS self-help group (Kenya)
- Gitaru Muguga CBO HIV group (Kenya)
- Missionaries of Charities 泰國仁愛之家 (Nong Bua Lumphu-Thailand)
- Tung Tam Mai Hoi ( Ho Chi Minh-Vietnam)
- NHCC New Hope for the Cambodian Children (Cambodia)
- Happy Tree House of Rainbow Bridge (Cambodia)