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New AIDS-Like Disease Appears in China

State dismisses the disease as phobia, but patients are dying

By Chen Yilian & Wei Tuo
New Epoch Magazine
Created: June 16, 2010 Last Updated: March 31, 2011
Related articles: China » Society
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A man walks past banners in Beijing bearing a message calling upon people to help halt the spread of HIV/AIDS. China already has an AIDS problem, and now perhaps a 'negative-AIDS' problem. (Liu Jin/AFP/Getty Images)

A man walks past banners in Beijing bearing a message calling upon people to help halt the spread of HIV/AIDS. China already has an AIDS problem, and now perhaps a 'negative-AIDS' problem. (Liu Jin/AFP/Getty Images)

Lin Feng of Shanghai, 49, suddenly felt ill in May 2008, saying he suddenly felt his muscles twitching and had severe pain in his internal organs. His ears rang and his joints made a cracking sound. He also suffered from muscae volitantes (where one sees spots), and found that his thymus gland, a vital element of the immune system, had disappeared.

Lin checked himself into a hospital for examination and was diagnosed with liver failure, hepatitis B, and herpetic gastritis (inflammation of the stomach caused by the herpes virus). He vomited after each meal. In six months, his weight dropped from 181 to 115 pounds.

After 18 months, Lin said that his internal organs have hardened and he has difficulty walking as his joints crack in pain, his skin feels like fiber, he has lymphatic pain, and the muscles and fat tissues under his skin cause him pain. Even though he takes numerous showers, he said his skin feels sticky and oily no matter what.

“I feel I am dying,” he said. He said he has fallen into the depths of despair.

Ping An, a former Chinese military man in his 40s, suddenly felt ill after a reunion with fellow former military men in 2009.

“I have never had a headache or dizziness like that. Next I developed dermatitis and fungus on my skin. The lymph nodes in my jaw were swollen," he said. "I was checked into the hospital five times, but my condition did not improve."

Ping also experienced severe pains in his bones and said some of his internal organs have become hardened.

"I am in pain," he said. "My bones are in pain. My bones crackle. I've developed white tongue fur."

He added that he developed a cardiac tumor, with his skin appearing "purplish." Once a day, he says, he experiences a minor heart attack and "muscles all over my body twitch."

"It is a miracle that I am still alive," he said.

Like these two, hundreds more in China have reported symptoms similar to AIDS, where the immune system fails, but the patients do not test HIV-positive. New Epoch Magazine reporters have found dozens of Internet chat groups with dozens to hundreds of members saying that they also suffer from the AIDS-like symptoms.

Most people said they started developing the symptoms after having sex. Lin Feng and Ping An are two thus far who reported having AIDS-like symptoms, but have not had sex.

China's Center for Disease Control (CCDC) dismissed the patients' claims and classified them as having “HIV-phobia.”

According to the CCDC, because they are afraid of contracting AIDS, these patients have developed psychological problems, leading them to suffer AIDS-like symptoms.

Whatever the cause, more people are saying that they have contracted a mysterious AIDS-like disease for which they receive no effective treatment.

A man wishing to remain anonymous said, “In our group, many people who developed the symptoms have already died. New people continue to join our group. We are certain it is not a mental problem, but a virus infection. But we know nothing else about the disease. My personal guess is that there could be millions in China with the same disease.”

Patients refer to the disease as “negative HIV,” as they experience AIDS-like symptoms but don't test positive.

Some patients who claim to share the symptoms say it is highly contagious and can be spread by having unprotected or protected sex, kissing, sharing utensils, and coming into contact with others' perspiration. After they were infected, they said their immune systems began to fail.

Next: Five symptoms





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