Report Prepared by Missing Chinese AIDS Activist Released
Friends of missing Chinese AIDS activist Wan Yanhai on Wednesday released a report on the severity of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Henan province that Wan finished preparing the day before he disappeared more than two weeks ago, the South China Morning Post reports. Wan was working on the report, which states that Henan is "suffer[ing] from a more severe infection rate" than officials claim, on Aug. 23 for an upcoming AIDS conference sponsored by the Hong Kong Catholic Society. Wan was last seen on Aug. 24 (Jenkins, South China Morning Post, 9/12). Wan, who founded the AIDS Action Project, was a key figure in exposing the connection between unsafe blood collection practices and HIV infections in Henan between 1994 and 1997. Officials from the State Security Bureau on Sept. 4 told one of Wan's colleagues that he was detained for posting on his Web site a classified document prepared by the Henan Health Bureau that indicated that officials in the province "were well aware of a serious HIV problem as early as 1995." However, Chinese officials have not confirmed Wan's whereabouts (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 9/10). Hu Jia, a friend of Wan's and a fellow AIDS activist, said he was "not afraid" of being detained for releasing Wan's report, which estimates that between one million and two million people in Henan are HIV-positive. The report also accuses the government of "ignor[ing]" the needs of children in the province who have lost one or both parents to AIDS-related illnesses. "We want more than anything to work within the law and to help the government collect information that will prevent orphaned children - the most innocent victims of the disease - from dying of neglect," Hu said, noting that according to the report, 3,500 children in Shangcai county alone have lost a parent to the disease (South China Morning Post, 9/12).
Wan to Receive Humanitarian Award
New York-based Human Rights Watch, the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network and other groups today will present the first Award for Action on HIV/AIDS and Human Rights to Wan despite his detention. Wan's wife, Su Zhaosheng, will accept the award on his behalf in Montreal (Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network/Human Rights Watch release, 9/12). The award "recognize[s] individuals or organizations that have made an outstanding contribution to addressing HIV/AIDS and human rights issues." It was not clear whether the decision to present the award to Wan was made before or after his disappearance, the Associated Press reports, noting that the deadline for nominations was June 14, according to the Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network's Web site (McDonald, Associated Press, 9/12).