Chinese AIDS Advocates Detained After Attempting To Submit Letter to Vice Premier at Conference
About 30 Chinese AIDS advocates who contracted HIV through unsafe blood collection procedures were detained by police on Monday after trying to submit a letter to Chinese Vice Premier Wu Yi at an AIDS conference in the country, Agence France-Presse reports. The detainees are part of a group of about 50 advocates from Henan province who traveled to the conference in Henan's capital, Zhengzhou, to submit the letter to Wu, whom they thought would be attending the meeting. The letter included 16 demands, including increased access to health care services and drugs with fewer reported side effects, assistance in paying living expenses and punishment for the individuals whom advocates allege are responsible for the unsafe blood collection procedures. According to AIDS advocate Wan Yanhai, Wu is not attending the conference, which opened Monday and is sponsored by China's State Council. About 500 people are expected to attend the conference, including officials from the country's Ministry of Health and UNAIDS (Agence France-Presse, 11/7). In the early and mid-1990s, many farmers in Henan contracted HIV through unsafe blood collection procedures. The government-sponsored blood collection program paid farmers for their blood and sold it at state hospitals and private clinics. The Chinese government estimates that there are 840,000 HIV-positive people in the country, including 80,000 people living with AIDS; however, the United Nations estimates that there are at least one million HIV-positive people in China (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 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.