Chinese Health Official Arrested for Leaking Documents About Henan HIV/AIDS Epidemic to Advocacy Group
Chinese officials have recently arrested Ma Shiwen, deputy director of the Henan Center for Disease Control, for allegedly leaking documents about the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Henan province to the HIV/AIDS advocacy group Aizhi Action, according to Aizhi Action Director Wan Yanhai, Agence France-Presse reports (Saiget, Agence France-Presse, 8/19). The United Nations estimates that last year China had approximately 1.5 million HIV-positive people in 2002, but many health officials say that the true figure could be much higher. The United Nations has said that China could have 10 million people living with HIV by 2010 (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 8/6). Wan said that Ma is being charged with leaking state secrets, adding, "It's possible that the secrets leaked concerned official documents that were anonymously sent to Aizhi Action on Aug. 24 last year and which revealed the extent of the AIDS outbreak in Henan" (Agence France-Presse, 8/19). In the summer of 2002, Wan was detained for a month by Chinese officials after posting a classified document on his Web site. The document, prepared by the Henan Health Bureau in 2002, indicated that officials in the province knew that HIV was a "serious" problem as early as 1995. The report had been labeled by the bureau as "secret" (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 9/23/02). According to an unnamed colleague, Ma has not been "formally sacked, he is still deputy director of the section, he has just disappeared." The colleague added, "He may have committed some wrongdoing, or may have some sort of problem, we just don't know where he is." Officials with Henan's health bureau and the provincial public security bureau would not comment on the situation, according to Agence France-Presse (Agence France-Presse, 8/19). Additional information on AIDS in China is available online from kaisernetwork.org's Issue Spotlight on AIDS.This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.