China: 86 Orphans of AIDS Victims to Live With Beijing Volunteer Families
August 10, 2005
In an effort to discourage discrimination, 86 Beijing families will host 86 orphans as part of the Second Summer Camp for Orphans of AIDS Victims, Aug. 12 to 17. The initiative is being launched by the China Youth Concern Committee (CYCC) and the nongovernmental group the Beijing Huaxia Charity Foundation.
CYCC official Li Guoqiang said the response from families has been encouraging. "After we informed the public of collecting families that are willing to live with AIDS orphans for two days, we received more than 270 families' applications, which is really a surprise," Li noted. Spanning a wide range of social strata, the volunteers are "revealing an encouraging strength in the society to take care of AIDS orphans," said Li.
China has an estimated 76,000 AIDS orphans, according to figures from the country's disease control center. Experts say that number could increase to 260,000 by 2010. Many orphans suffer from social biases against HIV, with some turned away from schools and even orphanages. "The emotional toll alone can be devastating as children suffer from isolation, loss of self-esteem, and depression," said UNICEF China Representative Christian Voumard.
Recently, Chinese leaders have made great strides in reducing AIDS stigma by shaking hands with patients and sharing meals with them in front of news cameras -- efforts that seem to be paying off. Nearly 40 Beijing hotels and institutions turned away the orphans during last year's camp, fearing they might negatively affect business. This year, however, hotels have discounted their prices for the orphans, and tourist spots have exempted them from ticket fees, said Lin.
Xinhua News Agency
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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.