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AIDS Activist Released in China as Village Doctor Arrested

August 10, 2004

An AIDS activist detained by authorities in central China has been released, but a popular village doctor has been arrested for dispensing too much medicine to AIDS patients, the Beijing-based Aizhixing Institute of Health Education reported today. On Sunday, as they prepared to join demonstrators in the "AIDS village" of Shuangmiao, Li Dan and a colleague were arrested. The colleague was released, but Li was held until Monday. According to Li's statement on the institute's Web site, as he left custody he was assaulted by several men believed to have been sent by local officials. Wan Yanhai, the institute's director, said Li had informed his family of his release but that he suffered wounds to his shoulder.

Sunday in Shuangmiao, Zhu Longhua, a local doctor who reportedly ignored official limits regarding medication for HIV/AIDS patients, was arrested, according to Wan and a villager who requested anonymity. The villager described Zhu as "a very popular doctor because he cared about patients and the quantity of medicine he prescribed was effective. But the county pharmacy said he gave away too much medicine." The villager, a patient of Zhu, said the officially authorized quantity of medicine was insufficient.

Of the village's population of 3,000, some 400 people are HIV-positive. They became infected from selling their blood through unsanitary government-sponsored programs in the 1990s. Despite Chinese officials' pledges to deal more openly with the epidemic, HIV-infected farmers demanding better care have been subjected to nighttime raids, beatings and arrests.

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Excerpted from:
Agence France Presse

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