AIDS, Not Economy, Should Be ‘Real Issue’ in China, Op-Ed States
"[J]ust as the [Chinese] government is going methodically about the business of implementing the requirements of its new membership in the World Trade Organization, it now also ought to take more seriously its membership obligations to another important world agency: the World Health Organization," Tom Plate, a professor at the University of California-Los Angeles and founder of the Asia Pacific Media Network, writes in an Akron Beacon Journal op-ed, adding that China's "real issue" is its HIV/AIDS epidemic. Estimates of the number of HIV-positive Chinese range from 600,000 to six million to 10 million, but there is "simply no way of knowing for sure" because of the "uneve[n]" governing of the country, he notes. Although the Chinese system may appear to be centralized, Beijing has "much less bite than outsiders would imagine in far-flung provinces," Plate explains. In those rural provinces, many people are "staggeringly" poor and "relatively undereducated," he states, noting that the combination of the two factors has lead to the spread of HIV through the blood trade. People are so poor that they sell their blood for $5 a pint and some "profiteering blood-supply companies simply don't worry about" using sanitary collection practices. The central government "should make an example of these blood profiteers with the ruthlessness it shows outspoken political dissidents," Plate states, adding that the blood sellers do "far more damage." There are signs, such as the new official media Web site on HIV/AIDS, that "realization may now be dawning" on the government, he continues. "The West shouldn't condemn but help. Beijing needs to move quickly to contain this crisis before it erodes not just its international image but its domestic public health," he concludes (Plate, Akron Beacon Journal, 12/4).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.