As former US President Bill Clinton shook hands with 21-year-old HIV carrier Song Pengfei at an HIV/AIDS summit yesterday in Beijing, he thanked Song.
"I want to thank you for standing up and announcing in front of all these people that you were infected," said Clinton, who has used his influence to push for the global prevention and control of AIDS since he left the Oval Office.
"You have done a big favor for everybody in this room and for this country today by having the courage to stand up and say what you did, and I thank you," he said to Song, who announced at the event he is a HIV-infected and then directed questions to Clinton at Tsinghua University's International Summit on AIDS and SARS.
Lack of HIV/AIDS education has been a major cause of the spread of the disease.
"AIDS? I know it is deadly. How does it spread and how to prevent it? I don't know," said Gao Weiqiang, a young farmer-turned-worker at a construction site just outside the university as Clinton finished speaking.
Tsinghua's students, and millions of others in China, are fortunate because they receive prevention information, event officials said.
Education and health officials have conducted HIV/AIDS education campaigns in schools and in urban areas.
However, Gao and his dozens of colleagues at the construction site - as well as China's 90 million migrant people- are rarely touched by awareness campaigns.
Moreover, in rural and remote areas, there are nearly 900 million residents and about 80 per cent of China's HIV/AIDS victims, and laggard development and poor government support have not helped matters.
(China Daily November 11, 2003)