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Monday, 5 October 2015

Mexican ‘wolf man’ battles isolation of rare condition

MEXICO CITY: Jesus Aceves may never get used to people’s stares, but after decades of alcoholism and a painful career as a circus freak, he has made a resolution: to stop burying his hair-covered face in his hands.

Aceves, a 41-year-old Mexican man, has an extremely rare condition called hypertrichosis, also known as “werewolf syndrome” — an abnormal amount of hair growth on the face and body.

Just 50 cases of hypertrichosis have ever been documented. Thirteen of them — seven men and six women — are members of the same Mexican family from the town of Loreto in the central state of Zacatecas.

One of those family members is Aceves, who goes by the nickname “Chuy” and has struggled to deal with the social fallout of the condition all his life.
Over the years, Aceves developed the habit of walking around with his hands over his face in an effort to dodge strangers’ stares.

As a boy, he dropped out of school, where classmates mocked him, bullied him and pulled his facial hair.
He turned to alcohol at just 13 years old, developing an addiction that would haunt him for years.

To support himself, he joined a circus together with two cousins who have the same condition, earning about $8 a day.
Hypertrichosis, which is caused by a genetic mutation, does not have any other symptoms besides hair growth.

But it makes it very difficult to get a job, go to the store, make friends or find love. “I don’t understand it, really. I believe it shouldn’t be that way. But unfortunately it is. They don’t give you opportunities, just because you’re different,” Aceves told AFP.
Speaking in a warm voice, Aceves recounts his difficult life, from his traumatic childhood to his stint working at the Circus of Horrors in London.

The only time a timid smile crosses his face is when he recalls the two occasions when he shaved his facial hair for appearances on TV shows — one Japanese and one British.

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