HIV-Positive Chinese Villagers Detained for Staging Protest, AIDS Advocate Says
Two HIV-positive Chinese villagers are being detained for leading a group of HIV-positive people into a hospital in Henan province to protest the country's treatment of HIV-positive people, a Chinese AIDS advocate said on Sunday, the AP/Las Vegas Sun reports (Ang, AP/Las Vegas Sun, 8/1). Fan Zhenbang and Pan Zhongfeng were arrested in early July and are expected to remain in detention for 30 days, according to Li Dan, who runs an organization that helps AIDS orphans (Agence France-Presse, 8/1). Henan province gained international attention in the early 1990s after it was discovered that farmers there were among hundreds of thousands of poor Chinese who contracted HIV through a government-sponsored blood collection program. The program paid farmers for their blood and sold it at state hospitals and private clinics (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 6/17).
Looking for Answers
Fan and Pan were part of a group of 20 to 30 villagers who in March broke into the hospital where they say they were infected with HIV through the blood collection program, according to Li. Although the police watched the protestors break in and take equipment from the hospital, they did not stop the protestors or arrest them, Li said, the AP/Sun reports. "The villagers were trying to get the government to admit that they had been wronged and hoped that they would get a fair answer to what had happened to them," Li said, adding that the government likely arrested them because of attention recently focused on China's fight against AIDS. Government officials say they are "not clear" about the case, according to the AP/Sun (AP/Las Vegas Sun, 8/1). The Chinese government estimates that there are 840,000 HIV-positive people in the country and that 80,000 people have AIDS; however, some experts believe that those figures are an underestimate. The United Nations estimates that there are at least one million HIV-positive people in China (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 7/21).