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People's Daily Online>>China Society

Sex-worker brides bring HIV across the border

(China Daily)

08:19, December 02, 2011

NANNING - Like millions of other people living in China's countryside, Huang Haitong in the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region never dreamed that he could marry a foreign woman.

Neither did he know the risk of doing so.

"I have been living with HIV for several years," said the 52-year-old resident of Pingxiang, a city across the border from Vietnam.

The man requested anonymity, saying he would rather be known by his pseudonym.

He was born in Hunan province and went to Guangxi in 1998, opening a small hotel there. His wife, who had come from Vietnam, had once been a sex worker.

His wife, whom he preferred be known by the pseudonym Nguyen Thi Hoa, once had another husband but he died after she gave birth to her son.

Cross-border marriages are common in Guangxi. Huang married Nguyen in 2004. Two years later, she began suffering from recurring outbreaks of herpes on her face. The couple spent a lot of money to try to treat the condition, all to no avail. A doctor eventually suggested they take a HIV test.

Telling the story, Huang remained composed. His reaction was quite different when he first learned of his infection.

He said he felt as if his world had collapsed.

"I had never sold blood and I wasn't addicted to drugs," he said.

He suspected that he had got the virus from his wife. At the same time, he thought there was little point in trying to ascertain who had infected whom.

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