Chinese Government Must Confront AIDS Epidemic To Save Millions of People, Columnist Says
"We in the West must exert strong pressure on China to act quickly to address the AIDS challenge," New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof writes, adding, "If China continues to be more concerned with hiding tragedy than confronting it, then today's Chinese leaders could kill millions of people over the next two decades." Government-backed blood collecting and selling practices in Henan province have infected about one million people with HIV, Kristof writes, adding that because the government is "responsible for making these people sick," it should supply them with antiretroviral drugs. In addition, Kristof says that "China could mobilize a national campaign against AIDS [because] ... leaders control the news media." Instead, the government has "arrested a leading doctor for speaking out about the disease, barred foreign and Chinese journalists from the area, prevented even Chinese doctors from visiting affected villages and banned humanitarian organizations from helping AIDS victims in Henan," Kristof writes. Although the Chinese government has acknowledged the importance of the AIDS epidemic, its steps to address the disease "are so tentative they are almost tantamount to murder," he states. Kristof concludes, "Thirteen years ago I watched the Chinese Army turn its machine guns on pro-democracy protestors, killing hundreds and outraging the world. I couldn't imagine the Chinese government doing anything worse. But here in Henan, it looks like a slow-motion slaughter on an even more horrifying scale" (Kristof, New York Times, 11/29).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.