Jinde Charities, the first Catholic NGO in China founded in 1997, started its AIDS care program in Shashe, the southern part of Hebei Province, in 2006. It serves over 100 people living with AIDS from 45 families. Most of the staff are nuns.
Apart from chatting and paying home visits, the staff organizes traveling trips and physical examinations for AIDS patients. The nuns don't discriminate against AIDS patients despite it being hard for their family members not to discriminate against them.
Sister He, who has learned community medicine, began to visit the families affected by AIDS in 2008. She stated that besides financial assistance, people with AIDS need mental care and that has been the focus of the program in recent years. The special group needs to feel accepted.
She shared that patients experienced great changes when they accepted their physical situations and lived out their lives.
Mrs. Xu got infected by HIV through a blood transfusion in 1995. Unfortunately, the virus was transmitted from the HIV-positive mother to her son and daughter during pregnancy. However, they didn't know it until her son was diagnosed with AIDS in a medical check-up after breaking his arm. What was worse, her husband was also affected by sexual contact.
For a long time, they couldn't accept it. Xu was afraid to bring her children to a hospital; once seeing a visitor at her home, she was so scared that she immediately wore a hat and a face mask to wrap herself up.
Two or three years ago, she became a Christian during her daughter's illness. Even in the church, her disease was unacceptable to some believers. As a result, she had to read the Bible alone.
The first time she went on an outing with the nuns of Jinde Charities, a volunteer held her child. She was moved to tears because even her relatives didn't dare carry her HIV-infected child. Now she is talkative and makes many friends.
Mrs. Du was also infected with HIV through a transfusion. Her husband became affected by sexual transmission and died 27 days after being diagnosed in April 2003. Since then, her husband's two sisters cut ties with her. Knowing that her son got an epidemic, the local villagers became terrified and his classmates didn't dare touch him. So Du moved to a new place so that her son could go to school.
She has to take medicine every day. It makes her more painful that she needs to accept her illness and work to support her family. Moreover, she takes care of her 87-year-old mother.
At first, she didn't know what nuns were, but she witnessed that they were better than her relatives after meeting them.
Duan Yangyu, a member of Jinde Charities, shared that he came to know the organization during relief work in Ya'an after a magnitude 7.0 earthquake and later joined the program. "I know more about the Christian faith through social service." He said.
The statistics from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention shows that there were 654,000 HIV-positive people in China and the disease has killed 201,000 people as of September 2016. The primary cause of infection was sexual transmission and new infections grow rapidly among young students and the elderly.
- Translated by Karen Luo