Southern Metropolis Daily ran a feature on World AIDS Day of Xiao Ling, a 3-year-old boy in Zhongshan who was not only abandoned by his parents at birth, but diagnosed a year later with HIV. He’s lived segregated from other children and, except for about ten nurses with the city’s Children’s Welfare Institute (CWI), almost everyone ever since.
According to the Southern Metropolis Daily reporter, in his “home,” Xiao Ling has his own wardrobe, washing machine, his own set of dishes, a cup and a bedpan. His clothes are washed and hung out to dry apart from those of others, and his eating utensils are washed, disinfected and also stored separately. He’s monitored 24 hours a day by a rotation of nurses who, one gets the impression, will soon make Xiao Ling start washing his own bedpan. He sleeps alone every night in his stainless steel crib.
“He doesn’t understand the concept of having a mother or father,” says head nurse Xie Bini, with the CWI since 2006, as she recounted once bringing her own son to work with her. When her son began calling out “Mama” for her, Xiao Ling started saying “Mama” too. He now calls all the nurses “Mama,” and doctors who occasionally visit are “Baba.”
He is allowed a limited amount of human contact, such as the odd visitor to the care center who will hold him for a few minutes. Nurses also sometimes take him out into the yard, or follow him when he runs out the door himself, careful not to let him touch other children if he tries to join them playing ball.
He enjoys playing with other kids, says Xie, however “We are extremely cautious in watching when they play, never allowing them to run into or scratch each other.”
There’s a preschool attached to Xiao Ling’s CWI ward, but he doesn’t attend, instead gets read to by his caretaker nurses.
“He is still immature and juvenile, and hasn’t realized that there is something different between him and other children. He thinks all children grow up the same way as him,” said one nurse.
According to the CWI, writes the newspaper, there are currently no legal means for adopting HIV-positive children in China, and although Xiao Ling will continue to stay with the CWI, he “still hopes someone might adopt him.”
(Edited by Feng37.)