Chinese President Hu Jintao shook hands with AIDS patients in a Beijing hospital Tuesday afternoon, encouraging them to "persist in medical treatment and enhance confidence for an early recovery."
Wearing a special red silk ribbon which symbolizes love and care for AIDS patients, Hu visited the Beijing You'an Hospital on the eve of the World AIDS Day that falls on Dec. 1.
Amidst his visit to two of the hospital's special wards, which presently houses 14 AIDS patients, smiling Hu reached out for handshakes with an AIDS patient inside and had a face-to-face talk with him.
This was the second time in a year that top Chinese leaders shook hands and had face-to-face exchanges with the AIDS patients. On the World AIDS Day last year, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao shook hands with AIDS patients in a Beijing hospital.
"Tomorrow is the World AIDS day. I and other officials come to see you," Hu told the patient after their handshaking, then asked in details about their treatment and family conditions.
"It is very unfortunate for you to contract the disease, but the Party, the government and the society will truly care about and help you," Hu said. "I hope you will enhance confidence and coordinate with doctors for an early recovery."
Before he left, Hu shook hands again with the patient.
In another room, Hu wrote "Wish you recover at an early date!" on a piece of paper for another patient.
Informative sources said that Hu expressed the wish to personally visit AIDS patients shortly after his return from the Latin American tour last week.
Hu was accompanied by Wu Yi, Chinese vice-premier in charge of the AIDS control and prevention work, and Beijing municipal officials.
During his stay, Hu also visited an exhibition on China's AIDS control and prevention and had a meeting with local medical workers and volunteers engaged in the fight against AIDS.
Official figures show that China has an estimated 840,000 AIDS/HIV cases.
(Xinhua News Agency November 30, 2004)