• The facade of Village 127 French Bakery and Cafe

The facade of Village 127 French Bakery and Cafe (Photo : www.shanghaiyoungbakers.com)

The Village 127 French Bakery and Cafe in downtown Shanghai suffered a decline in business after a Shanghai Observer report revealed that its employees were born to families affected by HIV/AIDS.

Yu Fengjiang, a manager at the cafe that sells French bread, coffee and simple set meals, said that they made about 5,000 yuan ($719) a day before the report was published on World AIDS Day last Dec. 1, but now sales are down to just 3,000 yuan.

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He added that the cafe used to sell 40 to 50 set lunches a day, but it is now down to 30 or fewer.

The report was intended to combat HIV/AIDS-related stigma and stressed that the employees were healthy.

However, it ignited unfavorable comments online with people even complaining about its existence of the cafe. Yu added that the staff has also been receiving threatening phone calls.

The profits go to the Chi Heng Foundation which helps AIDS orphans in rural areas, most born to parents who died from infection via transfusions of contaminated blood.

Chi Heng, or "wisdom in action," is registered as a charity in Hong Kong, and since 2002, it has helped more than 20,000 students from HIV/AIDS-affected families.

The cafe is named for the 127 children who made up the first group of AIDS orphans to receive an education in the first year of Chi Heng's charitable work.

The cafe's owner, To Chung, said that while he kept employees from being stigmatized, he had never deliberately concealed their condition.

He lamented that people who are AIDS-impacted, irrespective of whether they or their parents are HIV-positive, are still stigmatized.

The joint has been dubbed "the cafe of love" by workers nearby who frequent it.

Shen Jie, a customer who works nearby, said that the food rarely differs from other restaurants, but chose to support it because the stories behind their food are very different.