China Agrees to First Official Orphanage for AIDS Children
June 16, 2004
State media said today that China will build its first orphanage for children who have lost their parents to AIDS -- a new sign that the nation is beginning to face up to the epidemic. Previously, officials have denied the existence of AIDS orphans or said their numbers were few. Activists campaigning on behalf of the orphans have been harassed and detained. There is presently no government program to aid the orphans, other than partial tuition exemptions in some areas.
On a tour of Hubei province, Premier Wen Jiabao said the orphans will receive financial assistance. In addition, Beijing has decided that AIDS prevention education will be mandatory for high school students.
Xinhua News Agency reported that AIDS orphans ages six through nine will be admitted to the orphanage, which is to be built in Shangcai county. This is one of the worst-hit areas in Henan province, where almost every family in some villages developed AIDS after selling blood in unsanitary conditions. Work on the two-hectare orphanage will begin this year and its first phase will cost 3.5 million yuan (US$423,216), said Huang Mengfu, chairperson of the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce.
"[AIDS orphans] not only suffer a low-quality material life, but also meet with discrimination, which is completely unfair," Huang said at the inauguration of the China Red Ribbon Foundation.
Wen said the government is giving top priority to HIV/AIDS and will publish official figures on those affected, though he declined to say when. "The government will increase its allocations for fighting the disease and continue to offer free treatment for people who have been infected by the virus," Wen said, according to Xinhua.
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This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.