A 27-year-old aspiring teacher who tested positive for HIV during a mandatory medical examination before taking a post at a government-run school moved court in Yanbian county, Sichuan province, on Wednesday, demanding the job he was promised.
"He (the petitioner) has asked county personnel and education bureaus to apologize for leaking the information that he is an HIV carrier and enroll him as a primary school teacher," said a county judge surnamed Feng.
Feng said the court will decide whether to accept or reject the case in one week.
According to Xu Xinhua, lawyer of the petitioner, Xiao Jun (not his real name), this is the first case pertaining to discrimination against an HIV carrier in terms of employment in Sichuan and the second nationwide.
Xiao Jun, who comes from a family of illiterate farmers, graduated as a music major from a teachers' college in the province in 2002. Since then, he has worked as a substitute primary school teacher and done other odd jobs to earn his bread.
In August this year, Xiao Jun passed the examination for a music teaching post in a primary school in the county seat and was asked to start work on Aug 31.
But before the date, two physical examinations organized by the county education bureau found Xiao Jun was HIV positive, following which the bureau informed him verbally that it would not offer him the teaching post.
Xiao Jun insisted he was only an HIV carrier and could work and live as any other normal person if his symptoms did not develop into AIDS.
In one negotiation, in which representatives of the county personnel department, education bureau, disciplinary committee, public security bureau and health bureau were present, the personnel and education bureaus openly announced they could not enroll Xiao Jun because he was an AIDS patient.
Xiao Jun, who is single and has no girlfriend, said he did not know how he came in contact with the deadly virus. He has sought the help of the non-profit Beijing Yirenping Center, which had found an attorney for Xiao Wu (not his real name), an HIV carrier who sued the Anqing education department in Anhui province in August for denying him a teaching post.
Center coordinator Yu Fangqiang said: "Xiao Jun's situation is the same as Xiao Wu's. The center hopes both cases can help prevent discrimination against HIV carriers."
The court in Anhui had heard Xiao Wu's case and the judgment would be delivered in December, Yu said.
"I am optimistic that both Xiao Wu and Xiao Jun will win their cases because they are supported by law."
Although Xiao Wu's is regarded as the first case pertaining to employment discrimination against an HIV carrier in China, Yu believes there are more such cases that have gone unreported.
"Many don't have the courage to speak out, for they fear the information would be leaked, resulting in more discrimination," he said.
Professor Zhou Wei of the School of Law at Sichuan University considers the prejudice against AIDS stems from ignorance and fear.
"The country's AIDS Prevention and Treatment Regulation stipulates that HIV carriers and AIDS patients have the right to marriage, employment, medical treatment and school," he said.