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July 24, 2017

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Chinese HIV job seeker to hear court verdict on Friday

HEFEI -- A verdict is expected to be handed down on Friday (Nov. 12) in China's first court case of discrimination against an HIV-positive job seeker, the plaintiff's lawyers have said.

The trial, which involves a college graduate being denied a job in the education department of Anqing, Anhui province, started on Oct. 13.

The trial was not heard in public over privacy concerns, and the plaintiff, going by the alias Xiao Wu, did not appear in court.

Xiao Wu graduated from college this year and was denied a teaching job by the Anqing city education department this August after he tested positive for HIV, though he achieved good results in the written test and job interviews.

Under the civil service's recruitment policy, HIV carriers cannot be recruited as civil servants. However, under the Employment Promotion Law that took effect in 2008, it is illegal to reject any job applicant on the basis of an infectious disease.

Wu Gonghua, deputy director of the education department of Anqing, said after the trial that the recruiting procedure for Xiao Wu was legal. The department of education has refused to say anything else about the trial.

Xiao Wu, in his early 20s, now teaches in a private school in a local county.

He said his current job gives him an ordinary income, but working in a private school is very tiring.

Xiao said that this is another reason he should get equal employment rights, as his ability to work is the same as everyone else.

During the past month, Xiao has been contacted by more than 10 media outlets asking for interviews. Some asked to record his voice or have him appear on TV — requests he turned down.

"I'm afraid my friends and family will know, and people's gossip will make my life in the small county even harder."

Even his friends and family members are unaware he has HIV.

"The result of the case will be a landmark in China, especially for those who are affected with infectious diseases such as HIV/AIDS," he said. "If we win, the 740,000 HIV-positive people will get equal job opportunities."

One of Xiao Wu's lawyers, Li Fangping, said he is positive about the outcome, but still has concerns.

"I believe we are valid in law, but the outcome of a case as controversial as this is likely to be affected by its social influence," Li said.

He pointed out that society still has strong prejudice against people with HIV, especially against them being teachers.

Yu Fangqiang, a coordinator from Beijing Yirenping Center, a civil society that promotes welfare, benevolence and equality, has been trying to help Xiao since the case was filed.

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