Chinese Officials ‘Abandon’ Proposal to Create ‘Concentration Camp’ for People With AIDS
Public security officials in China's Guangdong province have "abandoned" the idea of establishing an "AIDS patient concentration camp" as a way to stem the spread of the disease, Melbourne's The Age reports. A report by the U.S. Embassy in Beijing states, "Rather than cracking down on the city's active prostitution industry ... the police apparently hoped to try to contain the disease using more direct means. The idea, however, appears to have been quietly dropped." Instead, local health authorities have decided to focus on HIV/AIDS education (Schauble, The Age, 5/29).
The embassy report, published this month, states, "Increasingly prominent and honest media reporting on China's HIV epidemic has helped make AIDS a more urgent legal and policy issue in China. Public reaction to the increased attention varies, and some have called for new laws to 'crack down on people transmitting HIV'" (Embassy report, May 2001). Earlier this year, a "small group of delegates" to China's National People's Congress moved to amend the country's criminal code to make the "intentional" spread of HIV a crime punishable with a prison term of up to seven years. That effort, however, "appears to have lapsed" (The Age, 5/29). The embassy report noted that proposed legislation that would punish or restrict the rights of HIV-positive people is not likely to be supported or adopted by most Chinese government officials. "Ministry of Health officials and mainstream policy experts ... for the most part seek increased funding for public health interventions rather than legal changes," the report states. The report concludes, "Local rules placing draconian restrictions on HIV/AIDS sufferers are a useful indicator of grassroots concern, but do not represent the likely direction of Chinese government policy. ... The government's approach towards China's emerging HIV/AIDS crisis will continue to be dominated by public health strategies rather than legal and law enforcement approaches" (Embassy report, May 2001).