Chinese AIDS activist Tian Xi is free after a year in prison for destruction of property at the hospital where he was infected with HIV.
Tian, who has lobbied the Chinese government to compensate him and tens of thousands of others infected with HIV through the contaminated national blood supply, was released with no conditions. "He is completely free," his lawyer, Liang Xiaojun, told the German press.
Tian's family is now struggling to pay his medical bills. The activist network Asia Catalyst, which lobbied for his release, is soliciting donations to help.
In August 2010, according to Amnesty International, Tian visited the Henan province hospital where he received a blood transfusion as a child. His goal was to speak with those responsible for his HIV infection. According to Amnesty International, however, the hospital's principal refused to address Tian's concerns, and physically rebuffed him. In irritation, Tian pushed items off the principal's desk.
Tian was sentenced to a year in prison, despite calls for his release from activist groups around the world.
Tens of thousands of Chinese were infected with HIV through blood transfusions in the 1990s. While many nations experienced similar outbreaks of HIV in the blood supply early in the epidemic, China is the only one that has refused to create a compensation program.
"Tian Xi ... has shown a greater sense of responsibility for the Chinese blood disaster than many of those double his age who were, in fact, responsible," said Meg Davis, cofounder of the China AIDS Solidarity Network. "With no other options, Tian Xi has repeatedly protested on behalf of himself and others, knowing that he would likely be imprisoned eventually, because he wanted to keep this issue alive."