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Last Updated: Monday, 4 August, 2003, 09:30 GMT 10:30 UK
China HIV couple weds
Yu Daguan, an Aids sufferer in Dongguan village, in China's central Henan province
HIV/Aids is still a taboo subject in many parts of China
China's official media has reported what is believed to be the first approved marriage between two HIV positive people.

Cao Xueliang, 37, and Wang Daiying, 34, both farmers from Gongmin in the south-western province of Sichuan, were married on Friday in front of more than 200 guests, according to the People's Daily.

The wedding - and its reporting by the official media - was seen as a sign of China's increased willingness to confront the issues surrounding HIV/Aids.

In the wake of criticism over its handling of the Sars epidemic earlier this year, the Chinese Government has been under pressure to become more open in its handling of diseases such as HIV/Aids, which have long been seen as a taboo subject.

The marriage was made possible following a relaxation earlier this year of the country's Maternal and Infantile Health Law, under which couples planning to marry had to pass a series of medical tests.

Those suffering from HIV/Aids and other sexually transmitted diseases, such as syphilis, were barred from getting married.

Blood donor scandal

Cao Xueliang is said to have contracted HIV 10 years ago, when he went to Henan province to sell his blood to a government-sanctioned collection programme.

Wang Diaying's then-husband He Yong also sold his blood at the same time, and has since died of an Aids-related illness after infecting Wang Diaying.

The backstreet blood donations of the 1980s and 1990s infected hundreds of thousands of rural Chinese, particularly in Henan province.

In Gongmin along, more than 60 people have HIV/Aids, and 25 people have already died.

More than a million Chinese people have been officially diagnosed with the disease, although the United Nations has suggested that the real figure could be closer to 1.5m.

Experts warn that up to 10m people could contract HIV/Aids in China by 2010.

China's rural Aids victims
26 Nov 02  |  Asia-Pacific
China, India face Aids disaster
03 Jul 03  |  Health
Guarding China's Aids sufferers from Sars
24 Apr 03  |  Asia-Pacific

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