China's Secret Plague

They line the dusty roads outside the tiny villages of China's Henan province, several hours' drive from Beijing—mounds of dirt funneled into crudely shaped cones, like a phalanx of earthen bamboo hats. To the uninitiated, they look like a clever new way of turning over fields—an agricultural innovation, perhaps, meant to increase crop yields. But the locals know the truth. Buried under the pyramids, which now number in the thousands, are their mothers and fathers, brothers, sisters and cousins, all victims of AIDS. Like silent sentries, the dirt graves are a testament to China's worst-kept secret.

They are...

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