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Living with HIV in China: Hundreds of Villagers Reportedly Sign Petition Seeking to Ban Child with HIV

First Posted: Dec 22, 2014 12:48 PM EST
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China is facing a crisis: a part of the country wants to ban a boy who is living with HIV.

China has a growing campaign for the fight against HIV, as in proper treatment, and they are against discrimination for those living with the disease. So this incident is a head-scratcher.

The banning of the 8-year-old boy who is living with HIV comes from a small village named Shufangya in Xichong county, in China. The condemnation and requested banishment of the young boy came from a petition that was signed by over 200 villagers. It was brought to light last week via China's newspaper the People's Daily.

The People's Daily reported that the Shufangya villagers unanimously voted for the boy's removal in early December. To make matters worse, the child's own "grandfather" has even signed the petition.

The petition reads: "Kunkun is diagnosed with AIDS, causing great fear among the villagers and village children. In order to ensure the safety of villagers and children, we demand that authorities quarantine Kunkun for treatment," CNN reported.

For the protection of the boy's identity, Kunkun is a pseudonym that is being used.

Kunkun's life since his diagnosis in 2011 has been a nightmare: he has been expelled from school and ostracized by members of his community. Kunkun had contracted the disease from his mother when he was born, CNN reported.

One villager was adamant that Kunkun poses a danger to them and their children.

"He's a ticking time bomb. My daughter is around his age, and goes to a boarding school now," He Jialing said, according to CNN. "What happens if she gets bitten while playing with him here at home? That boy is too dangerous."

The People's Daily has quoted Kunkun as saying, "No one wants to play with me."

The county government office is currently discussing Kunkun's case.

China has been progressive in HIV and AIDS awareness. Even China's First Lady Peng Liyuan was appointed the World Health Organization's goodwill ambassador for AIDS in 2011. Liyuan has appeared in public advertisements holding hands and playing with HIV+ children, CNN reported.

The question is why is this happening? Ye Dawei, the director of the China Red Ribbon Foundation, an anti-HIV/AIDS organization, says that the news is heartbreaking but understandable, The Wall Street Journal reported.

"What those villagers did sounds extreme or unreasonable," Dawei said, the Wall Street Journal reported. "But it's actually understandable. It's all because they still don't know much about the disease and fear it too much."

Dawei admits that their organization has not done enough "propaganda work" at the "grassroots" level.

The people in the small town are mostly elderly and some of Kunkun's family are ill. Kunkun's "grandfather," who is 69, says that he cannot take care of the little boy. The local newspaper has identified the man as Luo Sheng, and that Sheng is not Kunkun's biological grandfather. Sheng is simply the father of the man who is living with the boy's mother, The Wall Street Journal reported.  

There have been no messages from the boy's parents.   

The stigma of Kunkun has stretched beyond the little boy, to the rest of the family who is taking care of him. Sheng says that his younger son's wife has divorced him and has taken his two grandsons away, The Wall Street Journal reported.

"If we don't send him away, who will want to marry my younger son?" Sheng said.

At the moment, only a few people have shown interest in adopting Kunkun. But no clear arrangements have been made.

According to the United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS, since 2011, 780,000 people have been living with HIV/AIDS in China. People living with HIV or AIDS face widespread discrimination and stigma, especially in rural areas where there is lack of access to education about the disease, CNN reported.

China has been battling against stigma for the disease by creating laws and regulations that prohibit discrimination against people with HIV.

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