amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research

Voices: Learning to Hope in Kunming


October 2009Xiao Yue (whose name has been changed to protect her privacy) discovered she was infected with HIV when her husband was hospitalized with complications from HIV. When he died, she and her young son—both of whom had been infected as well—faced life on their own. For the past two years they have been receiving antiretroviral therapy at the Yunnan HIV/AIDS Care Center in Kunming, the capital city of Yunnan Province in China.

I first learned that I was HIV-positive when my husband was hospitalized for more than a month with cryptococcal meningitis. The doctor said his situation was too complicated to treat so I brought him home and later he died. But his HIV status became public knowledge where I lived, and I was forced to take my child and move away.

Even though I was HIV-positive, at that point my CD4 count was still high. So I decided to live without thinking about treatment. Before I was diagnosed I had no knowledge of HIV and no related information—nobody had told me anything about it. After I was diagnosed, I became very afraid of getting sick and being discriminated against. It is not an easy task to deal with this on your own.

Looking for support, I told a family member of my husband's and she accepted me, but she still couldn't understand why we got HIV. I also told my own family, and they gave me much support. But after my son and I started treatment, I found the most help from my peers at a group activity organized by the Red Ribbon Center. Some of the HIV doctors helped us a lot, too. The Red Ribbon Center staff has explained the facts about HIV and I've learned what I need to do for our treatment to be successful. This knowledge really helps me to face the truth and live with confidence.

My son is now six years old and his experience at school and with friends has been a good one—he gets along well with other classmates. But we never tell anyone at school about his status. He's so young that it makes me sad, but I dream that there will be a cure for HIV. If not, I hope we'll be able to remain on treatment. I want to be able to bring up my son, and I'd like to remarry. And I also really like to help other people with HIV by doing volunteer work in my community.

(Interview conducted by Li Yun)