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Save the Children Sweden
“A Strange Illness” is a report of issues and concerns raised by orphans and children affected by HIV/AIDS in an area of central China with a severe HIV/AIDS epidemic. This project was undertaken as a preliminary study for a longer programme of child-focused work in the area to provide care, support and treatment within a framework of child protection and children’s participation. The epidemic was caused through blood-selling by poorer adults and the bad practices used by entrepreneurs in returning some mixed blood of several people to sellers. Large numbers of adults have died, many are dying and many are infected. Some children are also infected. Children are being orphaned. Many children are experiencing the severity of this impact emotionally and physically, yet have received only sporadic public attention. When they are publicly noticed, children frequently experience different forms of stigma and discrimination, either in being excluded by their peers and local institutions (schools), in being looked down upon, or in being placed in institutional or other care separate from their remaining family and community.