China Bans Advocates From Holding Meeting on Rights of People Living With HIV/AIDS, Organizer Says
China has banned the New York City-based Asia Catalyst, an HIV/AIDS advocacy group, from holding a conference that was scheduled for early August in Guangzhou, the capital of the country's Guangdong province, conference organizer Sara Davis said recently, Reuters reports. According to Davis, Chinese authorities said that the conference was prohibited because the "combination of AIDS, law and foreigners was too sensitive."
The conference, co-organized by China Orchid AIDS Project, would have brought together 50 experts and advocates from Canada, China, India, South Africa, Thailand and the U.S. to discuss methods to promote the legal rights of people living with HIV/AIDS in the country. Conference participants also were expected to discuss discrimination, blood safety and the establishment of a legal aid center for people living with the disease, Reuters reports.
"Protecting the legal rights is key to any successful fight against AIDS," Davis wrote in an e-mailed statement. She added, "China has passed laws protecting those rights, and people with AIDS need assistance in order to exercise them." According to Reuters, calls to government spokespeople in Guangzhou and Beijing were not answered Sunday. There are no plans to reschedule the meeting at this point, Davis said (Reuters, 7/29).