Center Friends in Wuhan Overcome Obstacles in Coronavirus Epicenter to Help People Living With HIV and AIDS

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LGBT leaders from Wuhan, China, were due to arrive at the Los Angeles LGBT Center in February to participate in the Center’s innovative Emerging Leaders Program.

Then came the coronavirus outbreak and Wuhan became the epicenter of what is now a global pandemic.

The leaders of the LGBT Wuhan Center, located in the Hubei province, flew into action and gained permission from health authorities to make sure that self-quarantined people living with HIV and AIDS were able to get their medications.

Each day the staff of seven and a group of approved volunteers (the Wuhan Center’s director is a graduate of the Emerging Leaders Program) have been traveling to a hospital which is treating those with HIV and now those with coronavirus. They meet with doctors, obtain written prescriptions, pick up pharmaceuticals, and mail or deliver the medications to approximately 1,500 people.

“Throughout this process the Wuhan Center consulted with us and identified barriers to this work as they arose,” explained Center Chief of Staff Darrel Cummings.

The most recent barrier came when police were increasingly stopping the staff and volunteers from traveling or entering apartment buildings because they had not been credentialed by police to move about publicly.

“With a kind of determination that is familiar to many of us, they were able to finally win approval by the police to continue their work,” said Cummings. “The Wuhan Center did not close—they shifted. They recognized a serious community need, and they are doggedly working to make sure that need is met. Our friends in Wuhan who have looked to us for inspiration and learning are now inspiring, teaching, and reminding us of who we are and the value of being out and open.”

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