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Premier Wen revisits AIDS-hit villages
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Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao paid his second visit to China's worst AIDS-hit villages in Henan Province, a day before the 20th World AIDS Day.



Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao talks with AIDS orphans in Shangcai County, central China's Henan Province, Nov. 30, 2007, a day before the 20th World AIDS Day.   


It was Wen's fifth face-to-face talks with AIDS patients or their family members since 2003.


"What's your name?"


"Zhang Shuwan."


"Do you remember how your parents were dying?"


"No, I don't."


This was a dialog between the visiting Premier and Zhang Shuwan, a 10-year-old girl, whose parents died of AIDS seven years ago, at the Chinese Red Ribbon Home, an orphanage at the Wangying Village of Lugang Township in Shangcai County on Friday morning.


Wen was accompanied by Henan's Communist Party chief Xu Guangchun and Governor Li Chengyu.



Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (2nd R Front) talks with residents at Wenlou Village in Shangcai County, central China's Henan Province, Nov. 30, 2007, a day before the 20th World AIDS Day.


Upon learning that all the orphans are studying hard and with good results, Wen said with smile: "I have come to see, because I have kept you in my mind."


"You are very unfortunate for losing your parents at a young age, but you are very lucky, as well, since there are lots of people in the country who have taken care of you and showed concern for you," said the premier, advising the children to walk out of the shadow of losing parents.


He expressed his hopes that these children will study even harder to make themselves useful for the people, the nation and the society, in the future. He asked them to be happy and take an optimistic attitude toward life.


Afterwards, the premier sang a song together with the children. He also visited their dormitory, played table tennis, and had lunch with them.


Wen first visited Shangcai County in 2005 on the eve of Spring Festival, China's traditional Lunar New Year.


The county in Henan is well known for high AIDS incidence caused by illegal blood deals in 1990s. Among 38 worst AIDS-hit villages in Henan, 22 are located in Shangcai.



Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao talks with AIDS orphans and their "fathers" and "mothers" at the Xinhe Home of the Shaodian Township in Shangcai County, central China's Henan Province, Nov. 30, 2007, a day before the 20th World AIDS Day.


The premier's second stop was Wenlou village, home to 373 HIV carriers, one tenth of the village population. And 360 of them have developed AIDS.


"I came here two years ago," Wen told some AIDS patients and medical staff, while visiting the village's clinic.


Kong Chunyi, one of the patients and a worker of the village's mushroom factory, said he has been quite fine with the help of the government's special policies for this group of people.


The Chinese government provides AIDS patients, who have been covered by social security umbrella, with free medicine; provides free consultation to all those who are voluntary to consult on the disease; provides free schooling to AIDS-caused orphans; and provides free consultation, medical check, and medical treatment to pregnant women from areas which have been made exemplary for comprehensive control over AIDS, so as to reduce the spreading of HIV between mother and infant; and make all AIDS patients accessible to financial assistance from the government.


During his visit, the premier showed his concern for the problem of drug fastness among some patients. He asked Health Minister Chen Zhu, who was with him, to study the issue.


In talks with some medical staff working with the clinic, Wen thanked them for their devotion.



Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (2nd L) talks with local medical workers and AIDS patients at a hospital of Wenlou Village in Shangcai County, central China's Henan Province, Nov. 30, 2007, a day before the 20th World AIDS Day.


The premier also encouraged the patients to be confident and optimistic to face the illness.


Wenlou Village is a vegetable production base, but its products do not sell well due to prejudice by some outsiders. Wen called for greater awareness about the disease among the public so as to eliminate prejudice against AIDS patients.


"You can tell them that the premier has eaten Wenlou's vegetable today," he told the villagers.


According to the villagers, with the help of the government, great changes have taken place at the village. The village is gradually out of the shadow of AIDS. About a dozen of children in the village go to college every year.


"I believe that Wenlou will become better and better day by day," said the premier.


In Shangcai County, there are some "simulation families" formed by volunteer "parents" and AIDS-caused orphans.


On Friday afternoon, the premier visited one of them with father Hu Shaoling, mother Zhang Ping, and four orphans.


In his talks with the "family", Wen questioned the "family members" carefully. "It is not a matter of money, but a matter of passion," he said, upon learning that the "mother" only gets a pay of 500 yuan (US$about 67) per month.


The premier told the kids, "Your 'dad' and 'mum' are caring and kind people. You must study hard. Don't forget them and treat them with filial respect when you grow up."


At another "simulation family", with five orphans, Wen wrote an inscription, "Study hard for a beautiful future."


Later the day, Wen presided over a workshop attended by experts and local officials. In his speech, the premier urged local people to prepare for a protracted war against AIDS.


On the same day, Chinese President Hu Jintao visited doctors and communities in north Beijing, talking and shaking hands with HIV carriers to encourage the people "not to be daunted by HIV."


An official report released on Thursday said that China officially reported 223,501 HIV contracted cases, including 62,838AIDS patients, by October this year while about 700,000 people are estimated to be living with HIV/AIDS.


(Xinhua News Agency December 2, 2007)

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