China / Society

Move to banish HIV-positive boy causes controversy

( Updated: 2014-12-18 14:58
Move to banish HIV-positive boy causes controversy

A woman puts her fingerprints on the petition letter with Kunkun standing beside her. [Photo/] 

A village petition to banish an eight-year-old boy suffering from AIDS has become controversial among netizens in China since Wednesday.

Kunkun, who lives in the southwestern province of Sichuan, contracted the virus from his mother, the website of People's Daily reported on Wednesday.

After he was diagnosed with the disease in 2011, he was expelled from school and ostracized by villagers, with one of them calling him a "ticking time bomb", said the report.

In early December, the villagers signed a petition to eject the boy from the village, demanding Kunkun to be sent away and quarantined for treatment, the report said.

More than 200 villagers, including Kunkun's guardian and grandfather, put their names and fingerprints on the petition.

"We all feel pity for him," said Wang Yishu, the village secretary, adding that Kunkun is an innocent kid after all. "But he has AIDS. It's too scary for the village."

The report drew controversy on Internet immediately. A post by the official weibo account of asked people whether they would sign the petition if they were one of the villagers received more than 15,000 responses.

"The virus won't be transmitted through day-to-day contact", said @ Alangliuliu, adding "if we can jointly sign somebody out the village today, we can sign to kill somebody tomorrow".

While some of the weibo users accused the petitioners of being cold-blooded and ignorant, some found their actions understandable. "People are condemning the selfishness because it's not something that happened around them. Will you let your children play with Kunkun? Will you treat him as a normal kid?" said @momodetangguo.

@Yangguangkeren4430 said the society should not be focused on finger-pointing. "Let's just hope the government can come up with a satisfying arrangement for the boy and let him grow up happily."

In response to Kunkun's treatment, the head of the township was quoted by the report as saying Kun Kun should enjoy equal rights.

The township authorities have sent a team to the village to spread knowledge of the disease and persuade local villagers not to discriminate against the boy. His grandfather heard that some people offered to take care of Kunkun on Wednesday, but the information remains unconfirmed, the report said.

By the end of last year the number of HIV/AIDS patients in China had risen to 810,000 and the virus had claimed 136,000 lives.

The government, public health departments and social organizations have responded well and in time to the threat of the virus in China. In contrast, people's fear, resistance and discrimination against the disease and those infected with it have increased with the rise in the number of cases.

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