Nowhere To Hide

(China Youth Daily)  Nowhere To Hide.  By Dong Yueling (董月玲).  December 14, 2005.

[in translation]

Little Wei and Old Ji are peasants in Wenxi county, Shanxi province.  They were both born in 1965.  Both of them were found to be infected with the AIDS/HIV virus around 1997 from previous blood transfusions.  At the end of last year, they were staying at the Beijing Youan Hospital, they met Hu Jintao and they shook hands with the General Secretary.  That night, the television news program made a report in which their faces were not covered up or disguised.

From there on, there was turmoil in their two families and their lives underwent huge changes.

Over the past year, the AIDS-prevention volunteer Wang Tianming has been following them around and photographing them.  He witnessed what the two families went through and he wrote about the difficult situation in which the two AIDS patients who shook General Secretary Hu Jintao's hands found themselves.  Wang contacted a number of media as well as the relevant government units, but nobody paid any attention.

December 1 is the annual World AIDS Day, and the day on which AIDS patients receive maximum attention.  On November 25, Wang Tianming went to Shanxi and took Old Ji and them to Beijing.


In a short period of time in the month of November last year, three of Little Wei's fellow AIDS patient friends passed away.  Little Wei was scared and he was subjected to a great deal of mental stress.  He called up the Beijing Youan Hospital to ask for advice.

"The hospital said that December 1 is coming up and there may be some activities for which you can coordinate with us.  You come here."  Little Wei said that this was how he went to Beijing.  Old Ji was also staying at the Youan Hospital.

After staying there for a week, the General Secretary happened to be coming to Youan Hospital.  As for the meeting, Little Wei's memory is still fresh: "It was 3:40pm in the afternoon of November 30 last yea.  At first, the hospital did not say who was coming.  They only told us that we have to meet a great national leader.  Half an hour ahead of time, Hu Jintao had arrived at the hospital.  Then they told us whom I and Old Ji will meet with."

Little Wei used to run a business.  His wife and children have residence in the town.  Their family have always rented a house on the edge of the county seat.  He is articulate in speech and his mind works fast.  When he learned that the General Secretary was coming, he prepared an autograph book and he was also holding a pair of shoe pads made by his wife with the words "Care and Love" sewn into them.

I asked Little Wei how he felt at the time.  Nervous?

He said that he was not nervous.  He just felt that his mind was empty, like as if he was sleepwalking but it was also quite exciting.  Hu Jintao's group went first to Old Ji's room, and then to Little Wei's room.

"I was sitting on the bed.  As soon as Chairman Hu entered the room, he held his hand out for me.  I saw that he was wearing the red ribbon on his clothes.  He asked me where I was from.  I said from Shanxi.  Deputy Prime Minister Wu Yi was behind him, and she said, 'Oh, from Shanxi too.  Were you infected when you sold blood too?'"

"Chairman Hu's hand was warm.  He also told me: 'It is unfortunate that you got this disease.  But the party and the government care about you a lot.  Society also care and support you.   You must have the confidence to overcome this disease.'"

It was only a short time.  As they said goodbye, Little Wei told out the shoe pads and told the General Secretary: "I want to give you a small present.  These are shoe pads sewn by my wife."  "He took the shoe pads in his hands, looked at them carefully and then told me that he was very grateful.  Then I hurriedly took out my notebook and ask for his autograph.  Chairman Hu happily wrote down, 'I hope you recover soon.'"

When he returned to the room, he was still quite emotional.  At the time, a news reporter wrote that the two of them were "happily immersed in the excitement and elation."

Unexpectedly, as soon as this was reported on the evening television news, it was like as if explosions occurred in the families of Little Wei and Old Ji.

First, Little Wei's wife telephoned: "Do you want to let us live?"  Then Old Ji's wife telephoned to say that their 16-year-old son has gone missing.

When other patients heard what happened to the families, they said: "These two stupid idiots.  If we had agreed to meet him, it would never be your turn.  But even if they give me 300,000 yuan, we still would not have a meeting and be exposed on television."

"At the time, I thought that I represent not just myself but all the people in the country who have been infected by the AIDS/HIV virus.  Chairman Hu represents the party and the country.  We meet and we shake hands, and that should have a good effect.  The people will think, 'Hey, even the Chairman is not afraid of AIDS patients, so we don't have to be afraid either.'"

"I also thought that if I can shake hands with Hu Jintao and meet with the national leader, that it would be something worth dying for.  I did not consider my family, especially about the damage to the children."


Old Ji and Little Wei have been on television before, but they did not realize that this particular exposure would be so immensely different.

"Too much!  The Joint News program was a small problem.  The worst was the News Channel, in which the segment was repeated every hour at the same time.  If someone saw it at seven o'clock, he can tell someone else to watch it at eight o'clock.  These days, there are mobile phones and home telephones.  One person tells another person, and it gets distributed widely.  When too many people see it, the impact is very great.  I think that it was not in the county alone, but the city and provincial leaders must know about it too."

The consequence of the television appearance was that the AIDS infected status of Old Ji and Little Wei was confirmed.  Previously, those people that they had contact with could only vaguely guess.

But Old Ji and Little Wei did not imagine the worst.  After meeting the General Secretary, they took the train back to Shanxi.  Little Wei was still promising to do AIDS prevention propaganda in conjunction with the government.

When Little Wei arrived home, his wife refused to let him enter the door.  She cried and she yelled: "You can't come into this home!  Do not mess up this family's lives!  If you did not do that, we would not be despised by others."  After Little Wei came home, she did not step out of the door for seven or eight days.  She said that the neighbors avoided her and the children like the plague.  Little Wei have always rented a place in the county seat.  The rent was cheap and they have done so for six years.  Once Little Wei's status was known, the village cadre went to see the landlord: "You better get that family to move out or else they might infect our villagers."  So the landlord tried to get them to move.  "It is in the middle of winter.  What do we do now?" His wife cried out in despair.

On the second day after he came home, Little Wei was called down to the related department.  He thought that it might be something nice, but the leader lectured him: "Who let you bring the reporters back?  Do you think that this is something glorious?"  Little Wei was discouraged.  He went home, laid down in the bed and refused to get up.

In 1993, Little Wei took part in a blood transfusion.  He gave 2,000 cc on two occasions and made 80 yuan.  He ended up being infected with the HIV virus.

"I thought I was unlucky.  I would let others discriminate against me, because it is a way for them to protect themselves.  But I can't tolerate people discriminating against my family.  They are not AIDS patients.  They are still very well now."

"You wife is not?"  I interrupted him.

Little Wei got worked up: "Why must my wife be?  This is a misunderstanding of people.  They think that AIDS is easily passed along and therefore they become very afraid.  I was diagnosed in 1997, but the actual time of infection was earlier.  In 1998, I went with eight other AIDS patients to seek treatment at the district hospital.  All eight were in a situation in which one spouse was infected but the other was not.  I have lived with my wife and children for many years, and they are still healthy."

He said that he is the same as before, except that he carries a virus in his body.  "My wife eats my leftover food.  If I have an open wound, such as a bleeding scratched hand, I would pay attention and make sure that they don't touch it.  For everything else, my life is basically the same as before."

I told Little Wei, "Since your wife wants to throw you out, you leave then!"

He sighed and said: "Even if I leave now, I am still bringing trouble to my family.  I am still the father of the children and the husband of my wife.  Other people still won't deal with them and they will still discriminate against them.  If I can create a stable living environment for them, I would leave.  She was just speaking out of anger and helplessness.  Her old friends don't want to see her and she does not dare make contact with others.  Her social circle has shrunk and it has also impacted the lives of her siblings."

After his family was kicked out by the landlord, Little Wei asked schoolmates to help rent a house.  If he did not inform the landlord, then they would be kicked out if found out; if he informed, then no one would rent to him.  When he finally found a house, the annual rent was several thousand yuan more expensive than before.

Wenxi County City is not large.  There are always people who ask Little Wei: "You look familiar.  Where I have seen you before?"  Little Wei would say, "Our Wenxi is only so big, so who has not met who else?  I think you look very familiar too."  One day at the barber shop, he was almost recognized again.

"I've seen you on television!"  The man taking care of his hair said.  Little Wei missed a beat in his heart.  "Do you work at the television station?"  Once Little Wei heard that, he relaxed and then talk his way out of it.

Since the television appearance, all of Little Wei's acquaintances knew about his condition.  He may change a place to live and try to become obscure.  But sooner or later, someone is going to ask what his name is and which village he came from.  Little Wei's family dare not tell people.  For example, if he lived in East Village, they would say West Village.  They can't let people know them and they can't have normal relationships.  If they are found out, they would have to move again.  Little Wei said that he felt the worst about his little boy who is only ten years old.  Other small children will not play with them.  It is very sad.

One night, the grown-ups were away and only the son was at home.  The electricity bill collector came knocking on the door.  The little child did not know what the man wanted and so he was very afraid.  When Little Wei got home, the child asked: "Dad, is he here to tell us we can't live here and throw us out again?"  When Little Wei heard that, it broke his heart.

"During this year, my strongest feeling is that I have been acting stealthily like a thief."

Previously, Little Wei's wife supported him for doing AIDS prevention work.  Now she complains more and they quarrel a lot more.  Little Wei does not like to go home, because it is no longer a shelter.

The daughter was trying to get into middle school, but Little Wei was too busy outside.  The child did not qualify, and so the wife blamed Little Wei.  This year, the daughter was looking for a job and had to take a personal interview.  It so happened that a television station wanted to interview some AIDS patients and asked Little Wei to arrange for some interviewees.  So when the daughter was interviewed, Little Wei was not there and she did not get accepted.  Little Wei's wife was angry and sent him a SMS: "Little Wei, you might as well as die outside and don't come back!"  When Little Wei saw this SMS, his tears began to fall unceasingly.

Because of the pressure, Little Wei ran into a physical problem.  When he came for a conference in July this year in Beijing, he suddenly could not speak as soon as he got off the train.  He went to the hospital, and they told him that it was a brain obstruction.

His family was subject to discrimination and he could not rent a house.  Little Wei went to see the local government leaders to see if they can help him find a house while he would still pay the rent.  "What did they say?  Why don't you just move into my office!  I felt that they must have thought, 'You appeared on television and that was not by our arrangement.  So why are you looking up the local government for help when things go wrong?'"

Little Wei could not let his family live in hiding for the rest of their lives.  So he decided to buy a house in the county seat.  He thought: "If I have my own house, my family would not have to worry about being kicked out.  We can live in our own house.  Even if people find out about our family situation, they have no right to kick us out.  As a man, my principal duty at this moment is to provide my family with a place of their own that is a stable living environment."

It costs more than 100,000 yuan to buy a commercial house in the county seat.  Little Wei gathered half the amount and put down a deposit.  Housing prices have gone up and the developer wants him to pay the balance or else the house would be sold to others.

Little Wei's house purchase was controversial.  A local cadre said: "Little Wei, you are better than me.  Even you can buy a house."  Someone else: "A peasant and an AIDS sufferer.  What does he have to buy a house in the city?"

"They just gossip about my house purchase, but none of them ever cared about my family situation."  Little Wei said in a dispirited way.  "Actually, I am still very optimistic!"

In 1997, he found out that he had AIDS.  In 1998, he went to receive treatment at Beijing's Ditan Hospital.  He took Chinese medicine for six months.  Before he left, he heard that a professor had just returned from the United States with some medicine that can fight AIDS.  It costs 9,000 yuan a month for that medicine.

"Never mind the price.  At least, if there is medicine that can cure, then lives can be saved.  Later, I came for treatment at the Youan Hospital.  After taking the Chinese medicine, the hospital showed me the data and said that the changes were for the better.  In 2003, China could produce its own medicine to fight AIDS.  I want to work hard and take the medicine.  There is hope in my life to be able to live and see the children grow.  But I did not realize that during the past I year, I would cause so much trouble for my family and hurt my children."

Little Wei thought that he was a redundant person in the world right now.  The sooner he dies, the more of a relief it would be for his family who will get some peace.  He has heard people say that when someone is killed by a car in Beijing, the compensation is 200,000 yuan; locally, the amount is 70,000 or 80,000 yuan.

"On the day before yesterday right before I was coming to Beijing, I joked with my 10-year-old child: if daddy gets killed by a car, then the 70,000 or 80,000 yuan in compensation will be enough for our family to buy a house.  When the child heard it, he started crying: I don't want a house, I want daddy!"

When he got to this point, Little Wei's eyes got red.


Old Ji's family situation was even worse than Little Wei's.

Since there was no television set at home, Old Ji's wife did not watch the Joint News program that evening.  Just after 7pm, someone in the village ran over to tell her that Old Ji shook hands with Chairman Hu on television.  Within a short while, everybody in the village of about 1,000 persons knew.

Old Ji's wife said that the next morning their son went to school.  The other school children had watched the television newscast and knew that his dad had AIDS.  They scolded him.  They took his chair away and threw it outside, so that he cannot sit in the classroom.  When the son came home, he said that he did not want to go to school anymore.  "I scolded him.  We have already paid the tuition.  Why won't he go to school?  He can't just sit at home?"  So the child ran away.

Old Ji hurried home to find the child.  He mobilized his friends and relatives.  They went to his classmates' homes, they went to the bus station, the hospital and the police station to see if something bad might have happened.

"It was snowing.  I rode around everywhere on my bicycle.  I could not find him.  I was going crazy.  I hoped that he was not abducted by human traders.  I have heard people say that when they abduct boys, they sell the livers and kidneys."

After more a week, the child came back on his own.  He said that he had stayed at an apple farm outside the village.  At night, he slept in a shed; when he was hungry, he ate the apples on the trees.  He did not have any money.  He was cold and hungry and he came home when he could not take it anymore.

"After the child came home, he said nothing."  For a long time afterwards, he did not go to school.

Old Ji also has a 11-year-old daughter.  At school outside of class hours, nobody talks to her.  She plays by herself.  When the other children sees her, they yell: "Don't touch her.  She has AIDS.  If you touch her, you will catch AIDS."  In the village, the teachers take turns to eat with different families, but they never come to Old Ji's house.  Old Ji went to the school to speak to the leaders, but the discrimination only got worse.

This year, during the Spring festival, the daughter was playing by herself in front of the house.  Along came a bunch of kids who screamed at her: "Your family has AIDS!  Your family has AIDS!"  When Old Ji's wife heard that from inside the house, she was very upset.

"My child is crying every day and wants to go to another school."

When the villagers found out that Old Ji has AIDS, nobody wants to have anything to do his family.  Previously, whenever there was a wedding or a funeral, people asked Old Ji's wife to help out.  These days, nobody asks here.  The people in the village are wondering: Old Ji has AIDS, but we still know if she has it too.

"I don't even dare to catch a flu nowadays.  If I catch the flu, the villagers are going to say that this was my AIDS-related episode.  I can't go to anyone's home, and nobody comes to my home.  I live without any sense of human feelings.  I have too tired living like this.  There is no point.  I don't want to live!"  Old Ji's wife kept repeating back and forth.  She is only 37 years old this year.

I asked her: "Can you forgive the people in the village?  They are afraid."

She said unequivocally: "I cannot forgive them!"

"They seemed to have handed death sentences to my family.  I told them that it was not as horrible as they imagined.  If it were really that easy, then I and my children should be infected already.  But it does not matter what I say, they won't believe it and they say that I am trying to fool them."

"Did you check thoroughly that you have not been infected?"

"I have been checked several times.  I don't have it."

"The children?"

"They don't have it either."

Speaking about their livelihood issues, she said that there has been a drought this year and they could only grown 50 jin of wheat per mu.  The family has 10 mu of land, so they only raised 500 jin.  It was not even enough for their own consumption.  Old Ji has been sick this year, so the pressures of life are especially great.

I asked her if other than planting, she could try raising chickens.

She said that if she raised chickens, nobody else would want them.  The chickens that she raises can only roam in her yard.  The villagers will not let them roam outside.  "They are even afraid of my family's chickens.  Right now, I raise nothing.  Nothing at all."

"What about the fee collectors?  Are they afraid to show up as well?"

"They still come.  They are not afraid of my family's money. They only wish I could pay even more."

Old Ji's wife came from a family in Kansu, and she married all the way to Wenxi.  Right now, her family does not know about Old Ji's illness and she dared not mention it.  Ever since Old Ji found out that he was infected, she has been troubled and subjected to a great deal of mental stress about when Old Ji's disease becomes full-blown.

"Eight years already.  I have especially pained.  Previously, the others did not know and so we could still get by in the village.  This year, this is no longer possible.  If Old Ji passes away, I and my children cannot stay in the village."

Wang Tianming has been following Little Wei and Old Ji to take photographs.  Last September, he was on the way to Shanxi and he was nearing Wenxi county seat when he received a SMS from Old Ji: "Teacher Wang, can I waste a roll of film of yours?  Please come to my home and take some photographs in order to describe my family problems."

"As soon as I read it, I knew that something has happened!"  Wang Tianming said.  Previously, Old Ji and his wife have refused to be photographed.  Wang Tianming headed straight for Old Ji's house.

Old Ji's home was in a cave dwelling.  There is a cave inside and a cave outside.  When Wang entered the home, Old Ji was in the outside cave and his wife was in the inside cave.  When Old Ji saw Wang Tianming, he began to cry aloud.

"In my impression, Old Ji had been a soldier previously and he has the demeanor of a soldier and an optimistic and sanguine disposition.  Even if he did not have a cent on him, he would still have fun eating and drinking.  But this time, he was really crying.  He cried like a mooing cow."

As Old Ji cried, he said that his wife had the flu and the villagers were sure that it was AIDS.  Since there was no money to see a doctor, his wife said that she did not want to live.  She has not eaten for three days and three nights ... their own cave dwelling had collapsed the year before last due to heavy rains.  They are now staying at someone else's cave dwelling.  The owner has been coming around the past two days and told him bluntly: 'This is my cave dwelling.  If I want you to leave, you must leave immediately!'  He wants to throw Old Ji's family out.

"To tell the truth, I cannot stay another minute longer in this village.  Even small children called me 'AIDS'.  It has been almost one year.  What kind of life is my family living!  My wife says that I made a contribution to the nation, but I ruined my family.  She could not stand it anymore and that is why she is refusing food."

When Wang Tianming entered the inside cave, he saw Old Ji's wife living on the bed next to the window.  There are various utensils and bottles for fluid transfusions everywhere.  She said that she had the flu a few days ago and the people in the village said that it was her AIDS breaking out again.  She was very upset.  "The worst thing is that the village committee build a factory and destroyed our land without asking our permission.  At the time, the wheat was already a foot tall.  This is that too much."  She received fluid transfusions for a couple of days, but there was no effect.  There was no money for a hospital stay, so she gave up on the fluid transfusion.  She refused to eat and drink.  She coughed out blood last night, and she looks like she could not even live if she wanted to this time.

Wang Tianming advised her to go to the hospital, but she refused resolutely.  Since Wang had other business to attend to, he left Old Ji's place.  But even before he finished the other business, he got a call that Old Ji was going to kill himself.  So everybody rushed back to the village.  "Old Ji made a meal for his wife, but she refused to eat.  So Old Ji said in frustration, 'You don't want to live, and I have no hope either.  Let me go die first.'  Then Old Ji ran away."

When Old Ji ran away, his wife could no longer stay in her bed.  She immediately called Little Wei.  There is a deep ravine north of the village, and someone had seen Old Ji enter there.  So Wang Tianming got a group of people together and went looking for Old Ji in the ravine.  They looked for more than a hour and covered more than 10 miles before they found Old Ji.  He looked depressed as he paced back and forth over a ravine cliff.

When Old Ji got home, his wife agreed to go to the county hospital.

"Teacher Wang and others came and saved our family.  He put up the money to send me to the county hospital."  When she mentioned this incident, her face was stiff and she said that previously she used to cry alone and held everything inside of her.  But this time, she really could not take it anymore.  After five days and nights of starvation, her stomach was bleeding, she was fainting and she made up her mind to die.  So many times before, she had thought about buying rat poison and making a meal for the children so that the whole family can die without any more troubles.  "Before I die, I would like to write an article and tell the world about why my family died.  But I have no education and I can't express what I feel inside.  After I began the starvation, my brain was not working and I cannot remember some things."


It was past 10pm at night, and Old Ji was still nowhere to be seen.  This time, he brought seven local AIDS patients to Youan Hospital for the free medical treatment.

"My Old Ji is a person who tends to idle matters," complained Old Ji's wife.

One time, the child was having a high fever  But a female AIDS sufferer had a breakout and telephoned Old Ji.  He put down the phone and rushed out.  On a snowy day, Old Ji walked more than 10 kilometers to help others without caring about his own child.  When the government departments had needs, they looked up Old Ji to do promotions, conducted surveys or shot films.  His wife got mad and scolded him: "When your people call, you run faster than a rabbit.  When something happens at home, you are nowhere to be seen."  As busy as he is outside, Old Ji always comes home for meals.

"What I can stand is how the departments treat Old Ji.  They get him to come in during working hours.  When meal time comes around, nobody minds him.  It costs only 3 yuan for a bowl of noodles where we are.  How about giving him 3 yuan to have a bowl of noodles?  Instead, they tell him to go home and eat, and then come back again in the afternoon.  When they eat, they spend the nation's money.  Old Ji is also working, but they won't ask him to eat with them.  I am particularly mad about that."

I asked Old Ji's wife if he gets compensated for his AIDS prevention work.

She ranted: "There is no compensation.  Worse yet, the family is a mess."

When Wang Tianming went to Shanxi to ask Old Ji's wife to come, she refused resolutely  After much pleading, she finally came along.  "My Old Ji said that it could be bad for the government.  I don't care.  I will just speak the honest truth.  My Old Ji has made a lot of contribution on AIDS prevention and worked with the government.  So when our family has problems, how come nobody helps out?"

When the children cried about wanting to switch schools, she went to the county government but nobody cared.  "The studies of my two children are bad, as their results are falling off badly."  Wang Tianming said that the two children of Old Ji were bright-spirited and it would be a real shame if this continued on.

"My only idea is to take the children away from the village.  If I can go and work in Beijing, then it does not matter if I make only two to three hundred yuan per month.  I want to take the children away.  I really don't want to remain in the village."

Wang Tianming explained that Old Ji and Little Wei not only provided service for the local AIDS sufferers, but they also participated in the national "AIDS prevention" campaign.  Their slogan is: "AIDS shall stop with me."  They took many AIDS sufferers to seek treatment, they gave advice to AIDS patients and they took them to hospitals for testing and treatment.  They even went to the families of people who have sold blood to do testing for AIDS.  For this, they have even been assaulted.

"I think that they are marvelous and they have definitely made a contribution towards stopping the spread of AIDS.  Right now, certain AIDS workers promote themselves, get a lot of attention and obtain overseas funding, so that those who don't show their faces can benefit too.  The two of them are peasants.  They think simply and they are practical.  They have a stack of train ticket stubs just for going to Beijing," said Wang Tianming.

One time, a pharmaceutical company donated 300,000 yuan of medicine to an organization for AIDS patients.  On the night of the donation ceremony, somebody had to receive the donation.  So they asked Old Ji to be there and he went.  He got on the stage to receive a plaque for 300,000 yuan, which stood for the 300,000 yuan worth of medicine.  After the television broadcast, the people in the village said: "Look!  He's got AIDS and he got rich."  In truth, Old Ji paid for his own travel expenses on that trip.

"Village peasants are stupid!"   That was Little Wei's criticism.

At 11pm at night, Old Ji entered hurriedly.  He is dark and thin with a husky voice.  Perhaps because he was hungry, he grabbed the orange on the table and started to put it into his mouth.  He brought seven AIDS patients with him.  Two of them left in a hurry and did not bring their identity cards.  So the hotel would not let them stay.  Old Ji had to take them to the Beijing train station waiting room, where they will have to stay for the night.

I told Old Ji: "Your wife just complained that you are wasting your time trying to get busy."

He laughed ironically and said: "As for me, these patients are seriously ill and they have difficulties at home.  I could not bear it.  At least I have a certain knowledge about AIDS.  I understand these patients' conditions.  I contacted the hospital and I brought them to Beijing ..."

Before he even finished, Little Wei interrupted him impatiently: "Don't speak officialese about why they are important.  Without a stable family and the support of the wife, what can we do?  When your child went missing, why didn't you go to work?  You hurried back to look for the child."  The inarticulate Old Ji was quickly rendered speechless by these remarks.

Upon observing Old Ji's embarrassment, I joked: "Look at Little Wei.  His mind spins so quickly.  When he met the General Secretary, he prepared a autograph book and he had shoe pads.  How come you did nothing?"

Little Wei joked about him: "He wanted to give a cloth tiger as a present.  But he was too overwhelmed, and he forgot about the autograph and the little tiger."  Old Ji ignored him and said that he had been too overwhelmed and only knew that he held Hu Jintao's hand with both of his own hands.

I asked him if he remembered the conversation at the time.

"I remember.  He said, 'It is unfortunate that you got this disease.  But now the country will over your free medicine to fight the virus.  There is hope!'"

Initially, Old Ji thought that by shaking the hands with the General Secretary, the people in society and the villagers will think that even the General Secretary shook the hands of AIDS patients, so there is nothing to fear and therefore there won't be any discrimination."

"I did not imagine that while it meant nothing much to me, I was negligent towards my wife and children.  I let them experience great pressures and pains.  In order to make sure that those infected with AIDS not be discriminated against, we stood up in order to achieve a good outcome.  Instead, we dragged our families into it."  Old Ji became silent.

I asked Old Ji and Little Wei: If they can choose all over again, would they agree to appear on television?

Little Wei said that he would not do a media interview unless his face was covered up.  But he also said: "If I can arrange for my family and I have nothing to worry about, I would still stand up and do anti-discrimination promotion.  I even want to show how our family lives in order to tell people that normal interaction with AIDS patients will not cause infection.  The first-person story is a very effective way of promotion."

At that moment, Little Wei's mobile phone began to ring.  It was a SMS from his wife in Shanxi.  Little Wei let me read it.  The mobile phone showed: "Husband, don't forget to take the medicine! (老公,别忘了吃药!)"