Chinese Government Less Complacent About AIDS, But Advocates Still ‘Operate Secretly’ in Rural Provinces
Pressure from AIDS advocates and international organizations "have helped change China's complacent -- and sometimes hostile -- attitude toward an emerging AIDS crisis," the San Francisco Chronicle reports as part of its occasional series on AIDS in Asia. Health officials say that unless the epidemic is brought under control, China could experience "an AIDS explosion similar to sub-Saharan Africa's," according to the Chronicle. There are currently one million HIV-positive people in China, according to official statistics. Without government action against the disease, people in poor, rural areas -- where most people live and where most do not know how the virus is transmitted -- are most at risk. According to Deputy Health Minister Ma Xiaowei, "[i]gnorance is the major challenge in the battle against AIDS," the Chronicle reports. The government is focusing its prevention efforts on "bridge populations," groups other than "high-risk" populations that have the potential to spread the disease. However, some AIDS advocates say they are still "operating secretly" in rural provinces "for fear of angering local authorities," the Chronicle reports. "Local officials don't want us there. They think it is not good for the image of the country," Liang Yenyen, a Beijing medical student, said, adding, "It is a burden on the state they don't want to accept" (Becker, San Francisco Chronicle, 2/9). The Chronicle yesterday also featured an article on gay men in China, profiling AIDS and gay-rights advocate Chung To, who educates male sex workers about HIV/AIDS. According to the Chronicle, some health officials estimate that 9% of Chinese gay men are HIV-positive because of a lack of knowledge on the disease (Stanmeyer, San Francisco Chronicle, 2/9).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.