HIV/AIDS Stigma, Discrimination A Problem In China, Opinion Piece Says
Although China in recent years "has made bold strides in its response to HIV/AIDS," the number of new HIV/AIDS cases will continue to increase unless the country "owns up to past mistakes, encourages and supports civil society involvement, and proactively deals with the serious challenges of stigma and misinformation," Elizabeth Williams, acting director for Asian social issue programs at the Asia Society, writes in an ABC News opinion piece. China's leadership after "years of denial" now "serves as a model for the region," Williams writes, adding that Premier Wen Jaibo, President Hu Jintao and Vice Premier Wu Yi all speak "publicly and visibly on the AIDS emergency." In addition, new "public service campaigns are attempting to increase awareness," civil society groups and the private sector are making "[i]nnovative efforts," and "new resources from public and private donors are supporting model programs for prevention, care and treatment," according to Williams. However, there are "warning signs that all is not well" and that "worse is yet to come," Williams writes, adding that the ability of nongovernmental organizations and HIV/AIDS advocates to "progress and develop has been less than successful." In addition, China's "refusal to openly discuss and address" blood collection procedures in the country's Henan province is a "building issue" because "not one official has been held accountable" for the situation, and there is "no indication that this will change," according to Williams. HIV-positive people in Henan are "under constant pressure to stay quiet," and there is a growing population of AIDS orphans in the province who "run the risk of growing up uneducated and vulnerable," Williams writes. She concludes that although China's "leaders claim to be dealing with the challenges presented in Henan," the country will "continue to sabotage its efforts to respond" to HIV/AIDS until it "owns up to its own mistakes and improves open communication about both the past and present of this epidemic" (Williams, ABC News, 1/23).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.