The plight of a Chinese boy with the HIV virus, reportedly pushed to leave his home by 200 villagers who signed a petition, sparked intense online soul-searching in the country on Thursday.
The case has highlighted the stigma attached to HIV in China, where many sufferers face widespread discrimination.
The boy’s guardian, his grandfather, was among those in the southwestern Sichuan province who signed an agreement to expel the eight-year-old to “protect villagers’ health”, the Global Times reported.
The newspaper, with close ties to the ruling Communist Party, said the boy contracted the virus from his mother, and was diagnosed when he received injuries for minor treatment in 2011.
Previous reports said the boy — who was given the pseudonym Kunkun by Chinese media — was refused admission to local schools and villagers would avoid contact with him.
“Nobody plays (with me), I play alone,” Kunkun said, according to a report Wednesday on the website of the People’s Daily newspaper, the official mouthpiece of Communist Party.
The website also said Kunkun was referred to as a “time bomb” in the petition.