Chinese AIDS Advocate Under House Arrest to Prevent Meeting With U.S. Delegation Visiting Henan Province
May 27, 2004
Chinese AIDS advocate Hu Jia on Wednesday said that Chinese government authorities have placed him under house arrest to prevent him from meeting with a U.S. Embassy delegation while it is visiting Henan province, which has one of the world's highest HIV prevalence rates, the AP/Long Island Newsday reports. Hu said that police on Monday stopped him from leaving his home and that police have watched him "round-the-clock" since last weekend, according to the AP/Newsday. Hu said he had planned to meet with the U.S. delegation on Friday in Shangcai, a village in Henan province (Ang, AP/Long Island Newsday, 5/26). Henan province gained international attention in the early 1990s after it was discovered that farmers there were among hundreds of thousands of poor Chinese who contracted HIV through a government-sponsored blood collection program. The program paid farmers for their blood and sold it at state hospitals and private clinics. Chinese officials have been reluctant to openly discuss HIV/AIDS because they fear being blamed for the epidemic and because of a possible negative response from foreign investors (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 3/15). Hu said that police on Wednesday told his mother that they did not want him to go to Henan and instead arranged for him to travel to Anhui province from May 29 to June 10 accompanied by two officers, the AP/Newsday reports. The U.S. Embassy confirmed that a delegation would be visiting Henan on Friday but did not provide details, the AP/Newsday reports. In addition, the Beijing Public Security Bureau did not answer calls for comment, according to the AP/Newsday (AP/Long Island Newsday, 5/26). The Chinese government estimates that there are 840,000 HIV-positive people in the country and that 80,000 people have AIDS; however, some experts believe that those figures are an underestimate. The United Nations estimates that there are at least one million HIV-positive people in China (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 3/15).
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