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People's Daily Online>>China Society

A shoulder for AIDS patients

By Liu Zhihua (China Daily)

09:13, December 14, 2011

BEIJING - When Pang Yu was introduced to people living with HIV/AIDS at a party to celebrate Spring Festival, he felt he might encounter resistance.

"I wasn't afraid of the disease. But I had never met AIDS patients or HIV carriers before. I assumed that they would be quite isolated and wouldn't like to talk about themselves to strangers, and that the presence of a mental doctor would make them uncomfortable," said Pang, a psychologist at Beijing Huilongguan Hospital.

"It turned out that my worries were groundless," the 31-year-old said.

The organizer of the party, Home of Red Ribbons, which provides care and support to people living with HIV/AIDS, introduced Pang as a new member who would offer psychological assistance.

"Home of Red Ribbon did a great job being a shelter and home for AIDS patients and HIV carriers. People there were quite optimistic and open-minded about their situations," Pang said.

After his graduation from medical school in Heilongjiang province in 2004, Pang became a resident of Beijing Huilongguan Hospital, one of the leading mental hospitals in Beijing.

In mid December 2006, he heard about Home of Red Ribbon through a friend.

Before Pang joined, the team did not have a professional who people with mental problems could turn to for help.

"Being a clinical psychologist is what I had dreamed of. But it never occurred to me that one day I could use my expertise to help people battling against HIV," Pang said.

After the party, a man in his 50s surnamed Zhang came to Pang.

Zhang is homosexual and divorced. He had a secret relationship with a married man. They loved each other very much but had quarreled a lot and experienced several break-ups.

After a two-hour talk with Pang, Zhang said he felt as if a big stone had been removed from his heart.

"I kind of broke normal practice, because usually the first counseling should be less than one hour," Pang said.

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