Stung by worldwide condemnation, people of a Chinese village who earlier "voted" to banish an 8-year-old HIV infected boy, now claim that their move was aimed at getting better treatment for the hapless child who was being taken care by his ageing grandparents.
"The petition signed by more than 200 villagers in Sichuan province about a child with HIV was intended for the boy to be taken better care of," state-run Beijing News reported.
Eight-year-old Kunkun who contracted the virus from his mother was diagnosed with the disease in 2011. His parents abandoned him and he is currently under the care of his grandparents.
Early this month, more than 200 villagers, including Kunkun's grandfather, signed a petition to eject him from the village and be quarantined for treatment.
"I don't want to abandon my grandson, but I hope capable social organisations can take care of him because my wife and I are both in bad health and unable to raise him," Luo Wenhui 69, Kunkun's grandfather said.
The villagers also clarified that their petition was not meant to banish Kunkun from the village but was aimed at getting better treatment and education for him.
The newspaper said two "uncertified journalists" were behind the draft of the petition.
The two also claimed that their intention was to "help find proper social organisations to take care Kunkun and fulfill the hope of Kunkun's grandfather".
Earlier reports of a petition demanding Kunkun to be banished from the village drew wide concern and stirred heated debate on the Internet with tens of thousands of comments posted on Sina Weibo supporting Kunkun.
United Nations office in China has expressed concern over the villagers move saying that it amounted discrimination and stigmatisation by health care providers and the villagers.
All people, living with and affected by HIV, including children, are entitled to the same rights as others, it said, adding that UN is deeply concerned by reports of the boy being discriminated against and stigmatised by healthcare providers and many others in his community.
The township authorities have sent a team to the village to spread knowledge of the disease and persuade local villagers not to discriminate against the boy.
China has 8.10 lakh HIV/AIDS patients. The virus has so far claimed 1.36 lakh lives.