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Last Updated: Tuesday, 30 November, 2004, 15:24 GMT
'Now everybody seems to know'
Last December, as part of the BBC's series on Aids, people living with HIV from around the world told their own stories in their own words. One year on, they tell us how their lives have changed.

A man walks past a Chinese government-sponsored poster on HIV/Aids

Taxi driver Huang lives in a village in Henan, China and contracted HIV through a government blood-selling scheme in the 1990s. He says life has been harder since his HIV-positive status became public.

Life has been difficult since last year.

I used to help smuggle reporters into the village by taxi and the local government is aware of that.

They have warned me not to do it again and they regularly call me in to have a 'conversation'.

I feel they are trying to intimidate me. I used to work in the town centre as a taxi driver. Now everybody seems to know that I have HIV and no one uses my taxi. I am back in my village and am raising a few pigs to try to make a living.

I hope one day I will be fully recovered and live a normal life
Sometimes I am a bit scared because more and more villagers who are infected with HIV are beginning to show Aids symptoms.

However I have not lost my hope, I am still expecting a miracle and a wonder drug. I hope one day I will be fully recovered and live a normal life.

During the last year, many things have happened in our village. The authorities have sent a working group to be based in the village to help us, they say. They are all officials from various government institutions.

Blood scandal

After they moved in, they spent 200,000 Yuan (about US$24,000) to build a village government office to strengthen their rule.

They took over the village school which was privately owned, and they arrested those who dared to challenge them.

One of the HIV activists interviewed last year by the BBC was put into a detention centre because he tried to organise demonstrations against those responsible for the blood selling scandal that happened here.

Although he was released after several months without charge, his movement is still restricted and he has to get permission if he wants to leave the village.

The atmosphere in our village is dead quiet, nobody dares to speak out
A lot of villagers feel that the working group is here to control us because the local government does not want us to make any trouble.

That's why they arrested those who tried to criticise them. It really worked. Nowadays the atmosphere in our village is dead quiet, nobody dares to speak out and no journalist can get into the village.

A few days ago, a journalist from the official Xinhua News Agency came to our village and as soon as he arrived the authorities were informed and he was kicked out.

Having said that the working group has done something to try to improve our lives. A new well has been dug to improve the water supply, and a new village clinic has been set up to monitor treatment and provide us with free medicine.

The group has also offered financial assistance to families suffering from Aids.

If someone dies of Aids the family can claim 130 Yuan ($15) every month. My impression is that the authority will take care of you if you don't make trouble for them.

This interview was conducted by Chaoyang Zhao for the BBC's Chinese service.

If you would like to comment on this piece, please use the form below.

China needs to take a greater stand in the fight against the spread of Aids. Unfortunately this is something that the government just can't sweep under the carpet. Unlike dissenting viewpoints, a disease can't be simply silenced by the acts of local authorities.
Ting, NY, USA

I feel so much for Huang and cannot understand why he is being put to such cruel treatment by his own people. Why are the Chinese people hiding from the inevitable? Aids is here and we have to be able to know how to deal with it. As per his story, the way he acquired it saddens me. Something should be done in China, and now!
Kathy, Kampala, Uganda

I feel that people should be educated on the prevention of Aids. With education, I believe people will be less fearful and the stigma against people with Aids will hopefully lessen. In Asian societies, there's a saying that you should not "reveal your dirty linen to the public" (literally meaning that you should not reveal your weaknesses and faults to others). This mindset, albeit good in conservative societies, can lead to dire consequences if it concerns life and death matters like HIV and Aids.
Chua Yunjia, Singapore

Reading this piece makes me sick. I had no idea that the Chinese authorities were so backwards. Even more distressing is that China is a permanent member of the UN security council and, as a result, exerts moral authority on global issues and conflicts.
Jason Bond, Quebec City, Canada

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