China to Establish AIDS Clinic in Central Province of Henan
The Chinese Health Ministry announced yesterday that it will open a 24-hour AIDS clinic in Wenlou, a village located in the central province of Henan, AP/Newsday reports (Fackler, AP/Newsday, 8/8). Doctors estimate that more than one million people contracted HIV by selling their blood in Henan. Some blood-collection processes involved pooling blood from "dozens of sellers," some of which was transfused back to the people donating the blood. Farmers and village leaders in Wenlou had petitioned the Chinese government to help the "hundreds of farmers with AIDS" in the area (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 5/29).
A 'Cosmetic Gesture'
The Chinese newspaper People's Daily, which reported on the Wenlou clinic, did not disclose any details of what treatment would be available at the facility and did not say whether the doctors dispatched to the clinic would also visit nearby villages with "high" HIV infection rates. Dr. Gao Yaojie, a retired OB/GYN who has worked to publicize the link between the blood trade and HIV transmission, said that the Wenlou clinic is "a cosmetic gesture that would be insufficient to save lives in the region." She said, "AIDS in this area is no longer a disease that can be controlled by such measures. The affected regions are too huge." Gao added that the "only way" to stem the spread of HIV is to establish a "long term, massive education program" that teaches the public, especially children, about HIV/AIDS (AP/Newsday, 8/8).