The spread of HIV in China and the plight of female sufferers of the disease is under the spotlight today on World Aids Day. In recent years the Chinese government has become more open about the extent of the epidemic but international experts accuse it of still playing down the figures.
Women with the condition are said to be particularly affected by hostility and prejudice. “My parents treat me okay but when I go back to my husband’s family, they treat me like a monster,” said one victim. Even a monster has a place to hide but I have no place because even though you can’t see AIDS and you can’t touch it, it brings disaster.” Things are slowly changing. A late-night radio show in Yunnan was set up after last year’s world AIDS day. It provides advice to drugs users and others at risk. The government and the Chinese Red Cross are running other initiatives to encourage the millions of sufferers believed to be hiding in the shadows to come out and seek help.