NGO to make short film on children of HIV-positive people
Hong Kong-based Chi Heng Foundation will make a short film, titled Love, on children of HIV-positive people.
The film’s shooting will start inMarch in the villages of Henan, Anhui and Yunnan provinces and will be uploaded online inMay.
It is based on real-life stories of children whose parents are or were infected by the virus and shows the difficulties they face while growing up. A few members of the production team are also those with HIV-positive parents.
“It is touching to see that such children are willing to tell their stories to raise public awareness about the virus. I hope there will be more productions of such nature,” says To Chung, founder and chairman of ChiHeng Foundation.
TheNGOhas helped more than 19,000 students from HIV/AIDS families in 10 provinces in China since 2002. Less than 4 percent of such students are infected by the virus.
“The film’s theme is hope. It aims to encourage vulnerable groups to be strong and independent and calls on the public to be more inclusive (socially),” To says.
Hong Kong film director Stanley Kwan, who volunteers with the NGO, will join the short film as well.
To further its work among HIV-positive people, the NGO aims to collect 100,000 yuan ($15,400) on the crowdfunding platform of online retailer JD by April 28.
Those who donate money can get items such as the film’s posters and DVDs, and paintings by children of HIV-positive parents.
Even though many children are themselves not infected with the virus, they suffer from discrimination at the hands of friends, neighbors and relatives because they come from families where the disease was detected, says Wei Jun, 28, director of the short film.
“I want to do something to change that situation,” says Wei, who started to volunteer for the NGO in 2008.
Wei says the film will spotlight the struggles of a 10-year-old boy whose parents died of AIDS and whose uncle allowed him to sleep only in a pigsty for fear of “infecting” the rest of the family.
When the HIV-positive boy grew up and went to college, he felt awkward when fellow students asked him why he took daily medication.
According to China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention, by the end of October 2015, there were 575,000 HIV/AIDS people in the country. Some 177,000 have died of the disease so far.
In the 1990s, tens of thousands of impoverished farmers from places such as Henan made a living by selling blood illegally. Many were infected with the virus because of safety problems.
The NGO, founded in 1998, funds the education and living expenses of young people with at least oneHIVpositive parent or parents who have died of AIDS, and also offers counseling programs and vocational training to them.
“I hope education changes their destiny and they can be optimistic about life and integrate into society. They shouldn’t feel ashamed or inferior because of the disease in their families,” To says.
It’s not easy to find a spouse when such children reach a marriageable age because it takes a long time to fight social stigma.
“Most such young people are healthy, but their parents are HIV-positive. Even if a boyfriend or girlfriend accepts that, their families are likely to oppose a marriage,” he says.
The NGO started to offer matchmaking services in recent years and 26 infected couples were married.
With medical intervention to block mother-to-infant transmission of the virus, 16 females have given birth to healthy babies.