Destigmatising HIV

This Sunday is World Aids Day and general practitioners Dr Julie Mallinson and Dr Sam Vidler (who are husband and wife) will raise awareness of the neglect Chinese orphans suffer when they have HIV.

Dr Mallinson said concerns about catching the virus had led to the abandonment of 10,000 HIV positive Chinese children.

"Kids with HIV have the worst time out of all orphans," Dr Mallinson said.

The couple volunteered in Chinese orphanages for 3½ years and have started ELIM, a home for affected children, in 2009.

HIV medication has a high success rate and is administered for free in China, but neither hospitals nor orphanages are willing to administer it.

Dr Mallinson said anyone with HIV was turned away from hospitals, children and babies included.

"It can be life saving," Dr Mallinson said.

"If they don't have the treatment most won't live to see their 10th birthday."

She said ELIM aimed to educate orphanages and hospitals that HIV could not be caught by treating someone for HIV.

It also aimed to find short-term foster care for orphans while a permanent adoption was organised.

Nelson Bay physiotherapist Stephen Odgers lived in China for nine months while he volunteered with ELIM.

"Children with HIV in [places like] Africa have a family and community structure that supports them," he said.

"In China, they have no community or family structure."

He said orphanage resources were "very stretched" and so children with HIV were often considered a waste of time, money and medicine and were left alone in isolation rooms.

Mr Odgers, Dr Mallinson and Dr Vidler will hold a charity walk for World Aids Day on Sunday to raise money for medication, tests and essentials for the orphans. It will start at 4.30pm at the Birubi skate park in Robinson Reserve, Anna Bay.

The public can walk, sponsor a walker or donate.

To learn more about ELIM visit

AWARENESS: Stigma and discrimination are daily occurrences for those with HIV

AWARENESS: Stigma and discrimination are daily occurrences for those with HIV