China: AIDS-Hit Villagers Celebrate Chinese New Year With Tears and Hope
January 22, 2004
Wenlou village in Shangcai County has attracted worldwide attention for its high incidence of AIDS, resulting from illegal blood selling. Like other Chinese, Wenlou's villagers have been preparing to celebrate the Chinese year of the monkey, which begins Thursday.
The village clinic has discharged most inpatients so they can celebrate with their families. "We'll go from door to door to deliver pills and give injections to the patients," a doctor said. The treatment is free since the central and provincial governments have allocated at least $2 million to control HIV/AIDS.
The local government gave AIDS patients in Houyang, another AIDS-ravaged village in Shangcai County, 50 yuan (US$6) and a bag of flour as gifts for the new year. "I have to live up to the love and care of the government and make a better living in the new year," said Luo Yurong, a peasant farmer with HIV whose husband and daughter are also infected.
Villagers in Wenlou and Houyang said discrimination makes their plight even harder. "We've learned to take things easy these days, as the government has provided us with all necessities and free medical services, but we feel lonely and isolated because no one wants to visit us for fear of being infected and we are not welcome anywhere outside the village," said Cheng Siguo, an AIDS patient who heads a nongovernmental AIDS prevention group in Wenlou.
Shangcai County government has set up six care centers to accommodate 76 orphans and 26 senior citizens whose families have died of AIDS. According to the Ministry of Health, China has 840,000 HIV-positive people, and 80,000 AIDS patients. Some estimates warn the country's HIV/AIDS population could grow to 10 million-20 million by 2010. Experts agree that the public should adopt a non-discriminatory attitude toward AIDS patients.
Xinhua News Agency
01.20.04; Zhou Yan, Guo Jiuhui
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.