Chinese Officials Debate Whether to Allow First Public Address By HIV-Positive Person
According to the Beijing Morning Post, Chinese officials are debating whether to allow an unnamed person with HIV to address a national HIV prevention conference next month, Reuters reports. The state-run newspaper said that the address would mark the first time that someone with HIV has spoken publicly, as all people with HIV/AIDS depicted in the media have remained anonymous until now. However, officials are concerned about the "social repercussions" of the appearance. According to the Post, "Many AIDS sufferers are looked down on once they reveal their predicament, so organizers of the event have reason to worry. Someone trying to lead a brave life could meet many obstacles for revealing his situation." HIV/AIDS remains a "taboo" subject in China, where "widespread ignorance" about the disease remains. Those with HIV/AIDS are protected from job, education and marriage discrimination by law, but those laws are not always fully enforced, according to the paper. The government acknowledged in August that the nation is facing an epidemic, with 3,541 cases of HIV reported in the first six months of this year, and has outlined a plan to contain HIV infections to fewer than 1.5 million by 2010. U.N. experts estimate that the nation could have as many as 10 million infected people by that time if "decisiv[e]" actions are not taken (Vidaillet, Reuters, 10/15).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.