Thursday, December 15, 2005

Another Hurdle to Clear

Between bad banks, a crumbling ecosystem, widespread poverty, not to mention incompetent governance, China has a lot of hurdles to clear before we can speak of anything like a "Chinese Century". Add to all those a festering AIDS problem that is being exacerbated by ignorance and bigotry.
Images of China's top leader shaking hands with two AIDS patients, meant to dispel widespread discrimination, have brought mockery instead for their now-shunned families, a state newspaper said.

President Hu Jintao made an unprecedented visit to AIDS patients in a Beijing hospital in November 2004, urging the nation "to phase out discrimination and estrangement towards them."
What an exceptional act by Hu Jintao. Seriously. That's praiseworthy, even if Hu has been pretty bad overall.
Xiao Wei and Lao Ji (pseudonyms) were among those who met Hu, but state television repeatedly showed footage of the meeting without covering up their faces, China Youth Daily said.

Neighbors in their village in Shanxi province, where they were infected with HIV in the 1990s through blood selling schemes, have made their life miserable ever since, the newspaper said.

"Local officials came to ask Xiao Wei's landlord to expel his family lest the whole village get infected," it said.

Lao Ji's daughter, 11, who has not contracted HIV, had been isolated by schoolmates and mocked by other children. Villagers even refuse to allow chickens raised by the family to leave their backyard, it said.

"I cannot forgive them. It's as if we have been sentenced to death by the villagers," Lao Ji's wife, who is not infected, was quoted as saying.
The World Health Organization says that unless China really manages to step up on this matter, they could have as many as 15 million HIV+ patients by 2015. I'm not sure what medical people say about stuff like this, but I find it hard to believe that a public health crisis couldn't be better managed if the public were less ignorant and bigoted. But maybe that's just me.

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