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    Youths affected by AIDS thankful to Peng

    First lady Peng Liyuan greets students at the opening ceremony of the Love in the Sun summer camp in Beijing for youngsters affected by HIV/AIDS. They expressed their appreciation for Peng’s longtime support.Provided To China Daily

    First lady Peng Liyuan got a warm welcome on Sunday from dozens of students attending a summer camp in Beijing for youngsters affected by HIV/AIDS.

    Peng, long active in HIV/AIDS prevention and other health matters, was greeted as “Mother Peng” by Yaoyao, 18, a student from Shanxi province, at the Love in the Sun camp’s opening ceremony.

    The affectionate name also was used by Yaoyao’s 14 classmates attending the camp from Linfen Red Ribbon School, the only school in China exclusively for children orphaned or affected by HIV/AIDS. She has made several visits to the school.

    Yaoyao, on behalf of her schoolmates, expressed gratitude to Peng for her long-term concern and support for children affected by the epidemic.

    “We’ve grown up and will keep trying to become better people no matter what,” she said.

    At the five-day camp in Beijing, lectures to help the Linfen students get ready for university life and studies will be held alongside sightseeing and team building activities, said Guo Xiaoping, the school’s principal.

    At the ceremony, Peng said society as a whole is responsible for supporting children facing difficulties. Many of the stu

    dents knew Peng well – her efforts in promoting public health, particularly HIV/AIDS intervention, date back at least 10 years.

    Also attending the event was Melinda Gates, co-founder of the Bill& Melinda Gates Foundation, named for the co-founder of Microsoft and his wife. The event saw the signing of a cooperation agreement between the foundation and the National Health and Family Planning Commission. The foundation pledged a donation of $16.5 million to help China to combat poverty and the AIDS epidemic.

    Dozens of other AIDS-impacted children from Sichuan province and the Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region also are attending the camp. The summer camp is an annual event since 2010 held by the Chinese Association of STD and AIDS Prevention and Control. It aims to raise public awareness and allocate more support for children affected by HIV/AIDS.

    Peng was appointed as a WHO goodwill ambassador for tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS in 2011. In China, she became the health ambassador for HIV/AIDS prevention for the Ministry of Health in January 2006 and the national ambassador for TB control and prevention in March 2007.

    shanjuan@chinadaily.com.cn