Behind Closed Doors, AIDS Risks Grow in China

A Caixin article addresses the AIDS epidemic and the social stigma of homosexuality in China. By reporters Zhu Ziyi and Liu Hongqiao:

University student Liu Ji told his uncle, who in turn told his aunt. Eventually, his younger sister and parents received the heart-wrenching news that Liu had contracted HIV.

“My parents couldn’t work for a long time after finding out,” said Liu, who attends an university in Hangzhou. “My mom just cried and cried.”

Yet Liu failed to tell the whole truth. He led his family to believe that he contracted the virus that causes AIDS in late 2009 by sleeping with a prostitute. In fact, Liu is a homosexual who practiced unsafe sex with multiple partners.

Stories like Liu’s are becoming more common among gay university students in China. Sexual behavior at universities is contributing to what health officials say is the rapid spread of the deadly AIDS virus in the nation’s homosexual community. Soon, they say, the number of gays with HIV could rise to equal the infection levels seen among heterosexuals nationwide.

A Global Times report addresses AIDS/HIV discrimination:

Social workers like Xinzi are lobbying for equal rights for people living with AIDS across the country, which stood at 740,000 at the end of 2009, according to UNAIDS.

The push for equal rights at work places, educational institutions and at healthcare facilities got public attention when the world’s top HIV/AIDS experts met in Vienna, Austria for the wee-long 18th International AIDS Conference, which ends today.

Although legislation that outlawed discrimination against HIV carriers and AIDS patients has been in place since 2004, sufferers are barely protected due to poor enforcement, said Xia Donghua, project manager of Marie Stopes International China (MSIC), a non-governmental organization (NGO) that focuses on AIDS issues.

Read also “Henan AIDS Criminals: A Case Study,” translated by Roland Soong of EastSouthWestNorth:

Fifteen years ago, a blood transfusion decided the fate of Ji Qiaozhen and her son Ding Xiaoqiang. The tragedy occurred when Ding was three months old. A physical check-up at the hospital revealed that Ding had AIDS. Subsequently, the hospital admitted fault and paid 40,000 yuan to Ji Qiaozhen.

When Ding was three years old, his father left home without a trace. At the time, Ji Qiaozhen was also not feeling well. She believed that her son had infected her. When her in-laws found out, they refused to have anything to do with her.

From then on, Ji Qiaozhen’s sole income was 60 yuan in aid from the Xinmi city government.

Ding Xiaoqiang’s immune system was very poor. At age 11, he weighed only 35 jin. Every several days, Ji Qiaozhen had to take him to the hospital for for a protein injection that costs 180 yuan.

When her savings were exhausted, Ji Qiaozhen began to borrow money from people around her. But they were afraid of the two and would not lend them money. Out of anger, she said: “If you don’t lend me money, I will prick you with a needle!” That was how Ji Qiaozhen succeeded in getting a “loan” for the first time.


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