12/01/2003, 00.00
china

Orphans of AIDS victims: miserable and wanting revenge

Peking (AsiaNews) – Children of AIDS patients, who themselves are often sieropositive, are rapidly becoming a social scourge with no one to look after them. Dr. Gao Yaojie, a retired gynecologist, is among those who cry out most fervently against this situation. As of 2000 she has been fighting for disease prevention and assistance for AIDS sufferers. She is motivated by the fact that there are uncountable tales of suffering that both the media and government timely attempt to cover up and destroy.   

According to statistics released by the minister of health –all rounded down –there are in 840,000 persons infected with AIDS, 40,000 of which are terminal cases. Since 1985, upon discovering the first case, the disease has grown at a rate of 30% per annum (50% in Peking). On World AIDS Day, the vice minister of health, Zhu Quingsheng, said: "We swear before the world: We will offer help and assistance for therapy and free medicine for those infected and who are in financial difficulty. We will give financial help to patients and scholarships to their children."     

In an interview published on a Chinese web site, Dr. Gao Yaojie explained the situation involving children of AIDS victims, above all, those who had been made orphaned by the disease. "There are at least 3 problems for orphans of AIDS victims. The first is poverty. They don't have anyone to care for them, nor do they have money, food or clothing. In wintertime, I have seen orphans go around dressed in rags. Due to poverty, young girls are forced to marry people who use them, for example, old and corrupt men. The second problem is education. Chinese people defend themselves from AIDS by marginalizing those who are siropostive. Hence, these children cannot attend school nor advance their studies.  The third problem is psychological instability and its ill effects. I once met a child who went to visit the tomb of his parents every day and then spent the whole day fighting with and picking on other children in the street."

For many there is also a desire for revenge, especially in Henan, where in the 1990s the government became responsible for hundreds of thousands of infections. Some say numbers were in the millions. This occurred after some rural government clinics bought blood from farmers, extracting the plasma to sell and then injected it with impoverished blood. The use of improper instruments and lack of health care precautions triggered the outbreak. "All of Henan's orphans," says Dr. Gao, "have sworn revenge. They want to kill those who provoked the death of their parents when taking blood from them."   

In previous years the Chinese government has tried to cover up its responsibility for the spread of AIDS in the city of Henan, In last few months, many farm workers openly protested for justice and medical treatment, but were beaten down by police, while others were arrested and their homes broken into. 

According to U.N. figures, there are at least 7,500 orphans under 15 years of age whose parents died AIDS. (BX)
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