More than 200 villagers in Sichuan signed a petition demanding that an eight-year-old boy infected with HIV be removed from their village and treated in insolation, according to local media.
The boy, nicknamed Kun Kun, contracted the virus from his mother, Reuters reported, citing the People’s Daily newspaper. After being diagnosed in 2011, he was expelled from school and shunned by villagers. Early this month, they formed a petition to banish him from the village. It was signed by over 200 residents, including Kun Kun’s guardian and grandfather.
In response to the villagers’ requests, the town mayor said that Kun Kun should enjoy the same rights as everyone else, and rather than ejecting him from the village “the township government will conduct ideological work on the villagers,” according to the newspaper.
HIV/AIDS is widely stigmatized across China and infected people face discrimination on a daily basis, with some nurses and doctors refusing to treat HIV patients and some companies refusing to hire them.
The government has implemented policies to put an end to HIV/AIDS discrimination, and politicians have in recent years made publicized visits with patients across China, showing a growing recognition of the country’s HIV/AIDS issues among leadership.
In a video news report, a village chief who presided over the meeting declared that “[Kun Kun] living [with HIV] in our village does harm to our families and our children.”
Another villager said: “He will infect other people. We [elderly people] are not afraid of death, but when the young people return, they will definitely make him leave.”
“If he bleeds from being wounded, the virus will spread to other people. Thus, if we don’t separate him and send him for treatment, it will severely affect our young ones,” another villager said.
“I hate him, hate his disease. When he came to visit my home, I gave him food to eat. Later, I threw away the bowl he ate with,” said one villager.
Kun Kun’s 69-year-old grandpa, Luo Wenhui, told reporters that only the boy’s mother knows who his biological father is. “…we can’t do anything based on the fact that his disease can’t be cured,” he said. “His father doesn’t give me money to feed him. He eats and lives with me. I feel a clear conscience because I give him food and clothing.”
A reporter traveled to a local primary school, where a few students said they were unwilling to play with Kun Kun “because he is infected with the HIV virus,” according to one student. When asked what AIDS is, one boy replied: “AIDS is leukemia.”
[Images via Tencent News]