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China Finally Faces AIDS

September 4, 2001

"Chinese officials finally acknowledge that they face a serious threat of an AIDS epidemic. But [their] . . . silence denied a vulnerable population the preventive education it needs.

"As the Beijing leadership turned a blind eye to medical reality, discouraging journalists from looking into the matter and even allowing the harassment of a heroic physician for publicizing a dangerous blood-collecting scheme, the AIDS-causing virus got a potentially dreadful foothold. If not checked among China's 1.2 billion people, the resultant public health problem could dwarf anything yet seen in the rest of Asia, in Africa and the West.

"A unique factor in China's AIDS picture was an illegal blood-buying industry in Henan province, tapping poor donors with nonsterile equipment and pooling blood so that the chances for HIV infection by transfusion were greatly increased. Dr. Gao Yaojie, a retired gynecologist, crusaded against this danger but was, until now, rebuffed for her trouble and prevented from coming to the United States for an AIDS activism award.

"Chinese officialdom still falls short of mounting a credible counterattack on the disease. Spending for AIDS prevention is a paltry $12 million, compared with the US government's $744 million budget for the purpose. Deputy Health Minister Yin Dakui insisted that Chinese HIV/AIDS cases are still relatively few for the size of the country (a purported 600,000 cases at the end of 2000), but international experts put the number much higher. Yin cited a frightening 67 percent increase in HIV infections in the first six months of 2001.

"Xenophobia and false pride in Beijing's top echelon have delayed a solution. China for its own good, and the world's safety, must get serious about AIDS."

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Adapted from:
San Francisco Chronicle

This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
See Also
Chinese HIV/AIDS Organizations
Quiz: Are You at Risk for HIV?
10 Common Fears About HIV Transmission
More on HIV Prevention in China


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