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Young HIV victims must not be forgotten
By Alfred Romann (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-09-22 06:25

A few weeks ago, at Shanghai's new infectious disease hospital, one of the city's leading AIDS specialists had to tell a new mother her son was probably infected with HIV.

Clinton met eight orphans whose parents died from AIDS in the provincial capital Zhengzhou yesterday. Clinton is also scheduled to visit Beijing on his China visit. [newsphoto]

"She found out after she gave birth that she was HIV positive. I think the baby was infected because he has had a recurrent fever," said Lu Hongzhou, vice-director of the department of infectious diseases at the Shanghai Public Health Centre - one of China's most modern infectious disease centres built after the SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) outbreak in 2003.

The woman was from a rural area, Lu said, where testing is minimal if it is done at all. Her case underscored one of the biggest challenges facing doctors, officials and activists: "We cannot find all the HIV carriers."

Tracking down infected children is particularly difficult. Government estimates put the number of children infected in China at between 1,500 and 2,000. But to date health workers and authorities say they have managed to reach only one-10th of them.

The problem is a lack of basic information and social stigma attached to the disease.
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