HIV Found in Chinese Province Previously Thought Unaffected
Some villagers in China's Shaanxi province, a part of the country previously thought to be free of HIV, are infected with the virus, or what they call the "strange sickness," the Wall Street Journal reports. Henan province, Shaanxi's neighbor to the east, has recently captured "[w]orld attention" with its "extraordinarily high" rates of HIV. "[U]nclean" blood-selling operations, which pool blood from donors, then reinject them with the uncollected blood components, are most likely responsible for the rapid spread of HIV in these rural provinces, health officials said. China is facing an HIV/AIDS epidemic "of unknown scope" that is not "generalized," but is instead a "bunch of smaller epidemics," Joan Kaufman, a expert on reproductive issues who is affiliated with Radcliffe College, said. Although Beijing officials acknowledged China's "AIDS threat" at the country's first national conference on HIV/AIDS last month, some Chinese health officials deny that the country is experiencing an epidemic, calling the reports of widespread disease related to blood-selling operations "pure hearsay." The health department director in Shaanxi's county seat of Shangluo said, "Epidemic situations must be announced by the government," adding that he "didn't have the right to publicize the number" of HIV/AIDS cases in Shaanxi. Some Chinese and international HIV/AIDS experts estimate that more than one million Chinese citizens are HIV-positive (Chang, Wall Street Journal, 12/19).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.