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Showing her true face

By Zhang Yue and Sun Ruisheng | China Daily | Updated: 2013-06-27 15:43

Showing her true face

Liu Liping takes the role of the mother for 23 children with HIV/AIDS at the Red Ribbon School in Linfen, Shanxi province. [Photo by Kuang Linhua/China Daily]

A woman with HIV cares for 23 children born with the virus and - despite stigma - shares her hopes for the children on TV, without concealing her face, as most Chinese patients do. Zhang Yue and Sun Ruisheng report in Linfen, Shanxi province.

Stigma drives many Chinese with HIV to demand their faces are pixilated when they're on TV. Liu Liping, instead, wears makeup to look her best.

The presenter of the popular talent program Chinese Dream Show Zhou Libo asked Liu why she didn't hide her face when she appeared on the program on May 25.

"I don't need to hide from anyone," the 40-year-old says.

"I'm a patient - not a sinner."

Liu works as a caretaker at the Red Ribbon School in Shanxi province's Linfen. The school used to be a contagion area for HIV/AIDS patients of the Third Hospital of Linfen. The wards were renovated into a school for children with HIV/AIDS in 2005. There are currently 23 students.

Liu was infected with HIV in the summer of 1996 when she underwent an operation for an extra-uterine pregnancy and had an acute massive bleeding.

"It was a clinic in my rural hometown, which didn't have a blood bank," Liu recalls.

"Local people would sell their blood to the hospital when it was needed."

Many people from Liu's hometown, especially women, were infected during surgeries and childbirth.

It wasn't until mid-2005 that Liu learned she had HIV, after she developed a dental ulcer.

She didn't know much about HIV/AIDS then. It was nothing but a nasty and deadly disease to her.

Liu received her first-stage treatment at the HIV/AIDS ward that later became Red Ribbon School.

"I was horrified when I first walked into the hospital," she recalls.

"People were sallow and emaciated. Their faces seemed black, their eyes were sunken and they looked numbed and desperate."

She sobbed and refused to be hospitalized.

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