A new, unknown disease that almost exactly mimics HIV/AIDS is spreading rapidly in parts of China. Many cases have gone unreported because the victims repeatedly test negative for HIV and the disease is undefined. The symptoms include swelling lymph glands, weight loss, fatigue, sore joints, headaches, night sweats, hair loss, bed wetting, rashes, white spots and lesions on the tongue and destroyed immune system.
It seems extremely contagious, patients report their friends and family manifesting the same symptoms, even after something like a family gathering or party. It is spread through contact with any bodily fluid whether it’s sexually transmitted, from sweat, kissing or via shared utensils – even protected sex. One of the patients below contracted it from his mother when he picked up broken glass laced with her blood. Now it has spread to his wife and child.
The Chinese source of this article (translated into English) is rife with emotion, especially from the sufferers who know they are sick. Doctors often tell them it’s in their heads, that it’s a phobia. It translates to “fear of love disease.” Because doctors can’t determine what it is and it’s not HIV/AIDS, they consider it paranoia and tell them nothing’s wrong. “Never mind, you can lead a normal life, eat with the family,” one doctor said. The patient took his advice but it spread to his family and friends.
One man in the military believes he has spread it to at least 100 of his comrades, friends, and family. He thought he just picked up a cold from a get-together so he participated in all his regular activities. This feeling of responsibility creates a lot of guilt in the victims. Many are suicidal. With little help outside of online support groups, and not even doctors as their guides, they have little hope.
In a small hotel across from the Beijing Center for Disease Control and Prevention, a reporter from New Express Daily, dressed in an isolation suit, interviewed a dozen “unusual” patients from different areas of China. Their symptoms are painful and debilitating, and AIDS-like, but repeated tests for HIV have come up negative.
Lin Jun, one of the patients interviewed in the March 24 New Express Daily report, said he used to be chubby, but now he is skin and bones, and his joints have become all deformed.
Lin is referred to in the group as “big brother” for his kindness and giving fellow patients hope when they feel hopeless, with some having considered suicide.
In 2008 Lin’s mother received a blood transfusion at a hospital. Afterwards, she experienced frequent night sweats, numb limbs, aches all over, creaking joints, rashes on her hands, and weight loss.
In May of that year, Lin accidentally became infected through contact with his mother’s blood. Fourteen days later, he fell ill with swollen lymph nodes on his neck, sore knees that made clicking sounds, and pain all over his body. He also started vomiting after every meal, and the left side of his face swelled up. In half a year, his weight dropped from 82 kilograms (181 lbs) to 52 kilograms (115 lbs).Three months later, his wife and child developed the same symptoms.
Lin said he went to every major hospital in Shanghai, but could not get a definite diagnosis. He has taken the HIV test eight times, and each time the test turned out negative.
Then he found an Internet blog called “The Negative Group,” which he learned stands for “HIV negative.” He realized that writing on this blog were all people like himself, with the same kinds of symptoms, desperate to find a cure.
Several Chinese media have recently reported that the Department of Health of Guangdong Province has confirmed that people in Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangdong have fallen ill after being infected with an unknown virus. The patients think they have AIDS, but they test negative for HIV.
Guangdong has organized clinical experts, epidemiologists and psychologists to work together on these cases. The Health Ministry has also selected six provinces with more patients, including Beijing, Shanghai, Zhejiang, Hunan, Jiangsu and Guangdong, to conduct epidemiological studies, but there are no results yet, the reports said.
In most of the 30 cases investigated by New Express Daily for its March 24 report, people said their relatives and friends are also infected. Most of the 30 patients were infected through sexual contact. Some experts diagnosed them as having AIDS phobia.
However, the disease seems to be highly contagious and can spread by contact via any bodily fluid—through kissing, shared utensils, sweat, and even protected sex. Once infected, the immune system appears to be attacked, which results in a decrease of white blood cells and the body’s ability to defend against infectious disease and foreign materials.
In the past, official health agencies have only conducted HIV tests on these patients and have not checked for other, similarly pathological viruses. With HIV results coming up negative, many patients then stopped taking protective measures with their relatives. Subsequently, all their relatives and friends were infected, many have said.One infected man told The Epoch Times that the disease is highly infectious and hard to prevent. His wife and two-year-old child both appear to have it. The child has lip and skin blood spots, he said.
A retired officer in his 40’s told The Epoch Times for a previous June 16, 2010 report that he had been infected with a disease with similar symptoms in 2009, at a get-together at a friend’s house. “I thought it was just a cold at the time, so I still participated in all kind of gatherings. Consequently, over 100 of my comrades in the army, relatives and friends were infected by me,” he said.
By Chen Yilian