Detention of Wan Yanhai by Chinese Officials Brings Attention to, Action on AIDS Epidemic in China
The 31-day detention of Dr. Wan Yanhai, the Chinese AIDS advocate who was detained by Chinese government officials after publicizing "state secrets" regarding blood-selling practices in Henan province, has led to international attention to and Chinese government action on the country's HIV/AIDS epidemic, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Wan, who first exposed information about the blood selling practices in Henan, which led to the HIV infection of many rural Chinese, was detained by government officials on August 25 and was not released until September 20. Wan's arrest "catapulted the AIDS epidemic in China onto the world stage," Katie Krauss of ACT UP/Philadelphia said. According to the Chronicle, the international "furor" that resulted from Wan's detainment made Wan an "international hero" and "may have prompted Chinese authorities to take firmer steps" to fight HIV/AIDS. Since Wan's release, he has successfully registered the Beijing AIDS Action Health Education Institute as a nongovernmental organization in China, making the organization legal for the first time. In addition, China's officials have acknowledged that the country has an HIV-positive population of more than one million, considered manufacturing generic HIV/AIDS drugs and announced that China was "eager to work with" foreign HIV/AIDS experts. "It is better for our government to understand that we can be friends in the fight against discrimination and AIDS. This is our common goal," Wan said in an interview with the Chronicle, adding, "We are now just in the beginning. It's a new start" (Russell, San Francisco Chronicle, 11/13).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.