A plush “spa” in China — for AIDS sufferers

Now, this is a difficult article to process.

As many of us know, China’s history of taking care of its AIDS victims has been less than exemplary. So what are we to make of today’s very strange and incongruous story?

A hospital in north China’s Shanxi province has set up an unique spa for HIV/AIDS patients where they can receive treatment and make a living too.

Some 20 patients have received treatment at the 14.82 acre compound of hospital wards, entertainment venues and farmland since it opened on July 24 last year, state media reported Wednesday.

The Linfen City Infectious Disease Hospital last year rented the land from Licun Village, some 10 kilometres from the hospital, with an investment of $183,000.

Hospital staff have named it “Green Harbour” and hope that it could offer not only physical treatment but also psychological comfort for HIV/AIDS sufferers and their families.

The area is divided into three zones: treatment zone, logistics zone and work zone.

Patients and their families can grow grain, vegetables and flowers in the work zone, and then sell the farm produce to make some money. The facility also has an entertainment venue, a library and a gym.

Can they also get coconut body wraps and a foot massage? Facials and pedicures?

Now don’t get me wrong, I think this is great. But considering the 20 years of misery and stigmatization AIDS sufferers in China have had to endure, this strains my credulity. And when I say misery, I mean like having their brains beaten out by the police, being fired from their jobs, dying slow and wretched deaths with little or no care and, perhaps worst of all, having their existence denied altogether.

So suffice it to say I am quite curious when I see a story like this, and truly hope that it’s not only true, but a sign of things to come. I have no choice but to be skeptical, based on past performance.

The Discussion: 6 Comments

I saw this story too and was slightly confused.

What worries me is that there may be little difference between a ‘spa’ and an isolation camp.

February 16, 2005 @ 5:37 pm | Comment

I think it’s safe to say that anyone who has been following the AIDS crisis in China knows there’s something fishy about this. It almost sounds like one of Stalin’s model villages that he used to make gullible foreigners believe the USSR was a paradise.

February 16, 2005 @ 5:39 pm | Comment

I share Liuzhou’s and Richard’s concerns on this. About 20 years ago, I saw a TV report that described the way in which Cuba kept its HIV-positive citizens in golden prisons that contained sport facilities and plenty of other nice amenities. We have to wait and hear a lot more about what china has in store for its own HIV and AIDS patients.

February 16, 2005 @ 6:16 pm | Comment

Just do a search for “AIDS” on this blog andyou’ll see I’ve chronicled several of the horror stories, like this.

From cracking their skulls to giving them their own spa? Well, I’ll need a little more evidence.

February 16, 2005 @ 6:24 pm | Comment

Well it is strange, but when I was in China this January, I was struck by some really weird placards at airports and train stations presenting education about AIDS – that it can’t be transmitted by skin contact and so on – to the effect that AIDS patients should be approached with respect, are human beings with dignity and deserve help from the whole society. All in Chinese. So apparantly there is some campaign to improve the situation of these people going on, at least the authorities are showing some effort. So the “spa” is not necessarily a working camp, it might be simply a showcase example like the free elections in the what’s-its-name county in Sichuan.

February 17, 2005 @ 11:40 am | Comment

If you do a search on “AIDS” on this blog you’ll see a lot of posts about China’s progressed in acknowledging AIDS since Hu and Wen came to town. Huge difference. However, thing have still been atrocious for most AIDS victims in terms of employment and stigmatization. To go from that to AIDS spas with gymnasium, counselors and vegetable garden — it’s just an unlikely progression.

February 17, 2005 @ 12:40 pm | Comment

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