He left China in 2010, citing harassment by authorities.
Li's recent outreach to the HIV/AIDS community was welcomed by Li Hu, an activist based in Tianjin, who called it "definitely a boost for our work. Policies can only be well executed with their supervision."
In recent years, China has made a series of progressive reforms. It lifted a ban prohibiting foreigners with HIV from visiting the country in 2010 -- the same year as the United States. China also promised antiretroviral treatment for all patients with HIV in 2003. A UNAIDS report released last week lauded China for increasing the number of people receiving antiretroviral treatment by 50% last year.
Almost a decade ago, the Chinese government formed a policy called "Four frees, one care" that would give free blood tests for those with HIV, free education for AIDS orphans, free consultation and screening tests, and free antiretroviral therapy for pregnant women.
But hundreds protested in Henan in August, calling for full implementation of the government's HIV/AIDS policies across the province.