China Authorities To Discuss Efforts To Fight HIV/AIDS

Armen Hareyan's picture

Authorities in China's central Henan province have banned a group ofHIV/AIDS advocates from holding a conference to discuss efforts tofight the disease, the China Alliance of People Living with HIV/AIDSsaid on Wednesday, Reutersreports. The conference, which was scheduled for Aug. 19 to Aug. 20,would have brought together 30 Chinese community-based HIV/AIDS groupsand experts from Henan (Reuters, 8/15).


Blood-sellingpractices during the 1990s in Henan contributed to the spread of HIV,which affected about one million people, according to some advocates.The situation in Henan led officials to pledge reform, and the healthministry has said that it maintains stringent supervision ofblood-collection centers in the country. According to China's Ministry of Health,it closed about 150 illegal collection and supply agencies nationwidein 2004, the last year for which official figures are available. Thehealth ministry in July also ordered all blood-collection centers inthe country to install video cameras to ensure that medical staffmembers are following regulations (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 7/12).

Henanauthorities stopped the conference despite the organizers' compliancewith government rules that bar the media, as well as people fromoutside the country and the province, from participating, Meng Lin fromChina Alliance said. "We just wanted to share our experience with otherAIDS organizations so as to help patients, and also help the governmentto fight the disease," Meng said, adding, "The government said ourorganization was not registered and was illegal." A senior Henangovernment official said he could not comment because he had "noknowledge" of the issue.

Although China has become increasinglyopen about addressing HIV/AIDS, it remains "wary" of the involvement ofnongovernmental organizations or foreign groups, Reuters reports. UNAIDS Executive Director Peter Piot in July saidthat harassment of civil society advocates remains a concern in thecountry. An estimated 650,000 people are living with HIV/AIDS in China,and health experts say the disease is spreading to the generalpopulation primarily by sexual transmission (Reuters, 8/15).

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