Shanghai café staffed by offspring of people with HIV/Aids

Hong Kong-based charity funding venture says it hopes customers will just enjoy the food and ignore the staff’s background, says news website report

PUBLISHED : Friday, 02 December, 2016, 1:30pm
UPDATED : Friday, 02 December, 2016, 1:30pm

A café in Shanghai is staffed entirely by the offspring of people with HIV or Aids, a news website reported.

The staff all work at the Village 127 café near West Nanjing Road and the business is operated by the Hong Kong-registered charity the Chi Heng Foundation, which helps children affected by Aids on the mainland.

All the workers, including bakers, coffee makers and cooks are healthy, but their parents are infected with HIV or died of Aids, the China News Service reported.

The article about the cafe was published on Thursday to mark World Aids Day.

HIV/Aids patients still face rejection and discrimination in China’s leading hospitals

The café’s customers, mainly white-collar workers in the area, are aware of the cafe employees’ family background.

The cafe’s name refers to the first batch of 127 orphans from villages in Henan province who were cared for by the charity.

Staff said there was still a strong social stigma in rural areas of Henan, the area worst hit after thousands of villagers were infected with HIV two decades ago in China after selling blood.

One employee, a 19-year-old man orphaned for eight years since his parents died of Aids in 2000 and in 2008, said people in his village treated him in a cold and detached way.

They regarded his family as a source of pestilence and tried to a keep a distance from his relatives, he was quoted as saying.

A long battle to recognise the plight of Chinese HIV and Aids sufferers

Chung To, the founder of the charity, said he hoped customers in the café only thought of the food and deemed the staff just ordinary workers.

Prejudice about HIV infection appears to remain on the mainland, however.

Some 73 per cent of 1,500 people viewing the article said they would not visit the cafe for fear of Aids. Only one per cent said they would like to go to the cafe to support staff.