HIV-Positive Villagers Claim Chinese Police Attacked, Arrested Them Because of Their Protests for Treatment
Hundreds of policemen on June 22 raided the "AIDS-afflicted" Chinese village of Xiongqiao in rural Henan province, "rampaging through homes, beating residents and arresting 13 people" in what villagers said is a response to recent protests calling for better access to medical care, including HIV/AIDS treatment, the New York Times reports. Experts estimate that there may be as many as one million HIV-positive people in Henan, nearly all of whom contracted the virus through the government-sponsored blood trade, and about one-third of Xiongqiao's approximately 600 residents are HIV-positive (Buckley, New York Times, 7/8). County police confirmed the raid and said they had arrested 16 people on charges of robbery and "attacking government offices." They said that seven of the 16 people are HIV-positive. Villagers said that the raid was in response to protests earlier that month, in which as many as 200 villagers went to government offices demanding medical coupons for treatment and the construction of a hospital for which higher level government officials were rumored to have already allotted money, according to Agence France-Presse (Agence France-Presse, 7/5).
Call for Release of Arrested
The Philadelphia-based AIDS Policy Project today released a statement demanding the immediate and unconditional release of the prisoners, universal access to antiretroviral drugs in the area, AIDS education programs, care and education for AIDS orphans, disclosure of accurate AIDS statistics and the suspension of foreign investment until such conditions are met. "This raid was meant to send a message to people with AIDS in China. Instead, it's sending a message to the world: China is still mismanaging its AIDS epidemic. ... China's economic progress is a house of cards until it learns to deal with AIDS with prevention information and treatment, not beatings," Kate Krauss, director of the AIDS Policy Project, said (AIDS Policy Project release, 7/8). According to the Chinese government, one million people in the country are HIV-positive; however, the United Nations estimates that there are approximately six million HIV-positive individuals in China and warns that 10 million Chinese could be HIV-positive by 2010 (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 3/11). Additional information on AIDS in China is available online from kaisernetwork.org's Issue Spotlight on AIDS.