Xiaohua is 12
and lives in a province in South China. She is a happy girl who
smiles a lot and likes to talk to her friends after school.
People who see Xiaohua would never guess that she is one of
millions of children in the world living and dying with AIDS.
AIDS is a disease that breaks down the body's immune system and
leaves a person defenseless against infections and illnesses.
Most people who have AIDS manage to survive only a few years
after they get the disease. For some, medicine can help keep
them alive, but the treatment is expensive and does not cure
People get AlDS after having been infected with HIV. HIV spreads
through blood and other body liquids. People transmit HIV by
having unprotected sex, by receiving infected blood transfusions
or, as in Xiao Hua's case, through birth. Xiao Hua's
mother contracted HIV when she was 28, and she died of AIDS only
three years after Xiaohua was born. Xiao Hua's mother did not
know that she had AIDS until Xiaohua was born. Xiao Hua's
father, who also has AIDS, takes care of her, but Xiaohua misses
her mother. "I wish I could remember more about my mum," Xiaohua
says, "I wish that she were here with me and that we weren't
children become infected with HIV every day. In 2002, 800,000
children under 15 became infected; the total number of infected
children in the world was 3.2 million. The disease is spreading
fast in Africa and parts of Asia, mainly because of a lack of
proper health care, prevention and education. As with most
diseases and disasters, the young suffer the most.
like Xiaohua there is little hope. The drugs that are available
are much too expensive. Xiaohua knows that she will die before
she has a chance to grow old, but she does not let that
knowledge discourage her. Instead, she has decided to use the
limited time she has left to do something to help others. She
spends much of her time telling others about her disease and
encouraging people to learn how to protect themselves. She also
goes to visit other AIDS patients in hospitals across the
country to support them and cheer them up. “If I were to live
long enough to have a job, I would choose to be a doctor,
helping these AIDS patients," Xiaohua says.
The disease is not the only thing that AIDS patients suffer
from. They also have to deal with people's fear of the disease.
Many people do not know very much about AIDS and are afraid that
any contact with people who have AIDS is dangerous. Xiaohua is
trying to change this by creating a network of patients and
doctors that can persuade hospitals and companies to spend more
money on AIDS research and education. "I wish people would find
out the facts," she says, "and not act as if I were a bad or
dangerous person." When she talks to people about her
disease, she and Dr Wang, an AIDS specialist who helps Xiaohua,
often tell people that the most dangerous thing is not knowing
about the disease. They explain how AIDS spreads and let people
know that it is safe to shake hands, talk, and eat with someone
who has AIDS. People often ask what they can do to help. "If I
were you," Xiaohua says, " I would give an AIDS patient a hug.
That is the best way to show that you care and that we don't
have to feel lonely."
Xiaohua has learnt to live with HlV and the fact that she will
one day develop AIDS. She knows that her life won't be as long
as her classmates', but she will not let the disease destroy her
happiness. "My life may have to be short," she says," but
there's no reason why it can't be beautiful."
(Senior English for China Student's Book 2A Unit