Wu and his wife are a couple of AIDS patients living in an obscure town in Henan Province. Like many villagers, they were contaminated by the deadly disease due to the unhygienic blood selling business which was rampant in the 1980s.
Their older son, who is working in an electronic factory in Anhui Province, is already 20 years old. It is uncertain whether he is affected by HIV. However, their younger daughter, who is at kindergarten, is completely healthy, thanks to the Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission (PMTCT) that has been adopted among pregnant women with HIV.
Before the prevention, about a third of the babies born to HIV patients in China were contaminated by the disease. One third of them died within a year and half of them died within two years if they were not given treatment, said Wang Fang, professor from the National Center for Women and Children's Health of Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, at a forum held by the Chi Heng Foundation and the ifeng.com charity on Nov. 27 in Beijing.
"It affects their psychiatric and psychological development, as well as their command of fine movements," said Wang.
Despite the tightened control over the blood selling business, HIV remains a big threat to public health as sex has become a major channel in transmitting the disease.
"Sex has become the major force behind the prevalence of AIDS and the transmission has become more complicated among young, old and migrant peoples," said Guo Ruixiang, Programme Coordinator of the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UNWomen).
PMTCT is an effective protection for the next generation, as AIDS transmissions from the affected mothers to babies can be greatly reduced.
The possibility of a mother with AIDS delivering a healthy baby can be above 98 percent if PMTCT is used, Guo said.
In 2012, less than two percent of mothers who received PMTCT transmitted the disease to their babies, saving 4,500 infants from being infected, Wang revealed.
However, the social challenges of AIDS remain, especially for women, because of gender inequalities, poverty and the marginalization of the AIDS patients, according to Guo.
According to UNAIDS, a survey conducted a few years ago among 6,000 interviewees in five cities in China, including Beijing and Wuhan, on the discrimination of the AIDS patients shows that about 41.3 percent of people were unwilling to work with HIV carriers.
Another poll carried out by the International Labor Organization shows about 65 percent of employers in China thought that AIDS patients should not be treated with the same as the rest of the employees.
Moreover, a recent regulation to ban AIDS patients from access to the public bathrooms drafted by the Ministry of Commerce sparked huge controversy.
"Discrimination is a deep social problem and that will not change in the short time," said Guy Taylor, Advocacy and Information Officer from the UNAIDS China Office.
"However, according to a spokesperson from the Ministry of Commerce, the Bathhouse Regulations will be reviewed before the final version of the regulations are issued. We need to understand how HIV is transmitted and understand it is merely a medical condition and not a moral issue."