Chinese Authorities Praise HIV/AIDS Advocate Gao After Preventing Her From Coming to U.S. to Accept Award
February 14, 2007
The Chinese government on Monday praised HIV/AIDS advocate and retired physician Gao Yaojie after placing her under house arrest last week to prevent her from visiting the U.S. to accept an award from the group Vital Voices Global Partnership, the AP/International Herald Tribune reports (AP/International Herald Tribune, 2/13). According to Gao's friend and Beijing-based AIDS advocate Hu Jia, Chinese authorities from the eastern province Henan told Gao not to attend the Vital Voices awards ceremony. When Gao refused, she was put under house arrest to prevent her from traveling to Beijing to apply for a U.S. visa, Hu said. Gao's friends and family were blocked from visiting her or were questioned before being given permission to visit, and her daughter was placed under police surveillance, Hu said. Gao in the 1990s alerted people in Henan of HIV cases that occurred through tainted blood transfusions. Gao also distributed material warning people of HIV and the risks of donating blood. In addition, Gao has distributed medicine to HIV-positive people, provided cared for AIDS orphans and hosted people living with HIV/AIDS in her home. She also has written a book about the HIV/AIDS epidemic in China. Chinese authorities in 2001 and 2003 prevented Gao from traveling abroad to accept awards for her work (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 2/6). According to the AP/Herald Tribune, Communist Party deputy secretary for Henan Chen Quanguo visited Gao in her home and praised her "long-standing contributions" to the province's "education, health and AIDS prevention work." HIV/AIDS advocate Li Dan said Chen might have visited Gao to offset negative publicity abroad. Li said that Gao had told him by phone that she still plans to visit the U.S. to accept the award. Wenchi Yu Perkins, director for Vital Voices' human rights programs, last week said the group is talking to Chinese contacts to "understand what is happening" (AP/International Herald Tribune, 2/13).
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This article was provided by Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. It is a part of the publication Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report. Visit the Kaiser Family Foundation's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.