Plight of the Untouchables

Stigmas harm public health in unexplored ways

8:52am, October 23, 2001

In China, few of the increasing number of people infected with the AIDS virus identify themselves publicly. If word leaks out that a person has contracted the virus, whether or not AIDS symptoms are apparent, dire consequences follow. School officials bar infected students from classes. Supervisors summarily fire infected employees. Close friends and neighbors join with local officials to expel the infected person and his or her family from the community.

To add injury to monumental insult, physicians and nurses at many hospitals refuse to treat AIDS patients.

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