Authorities in China’s Henan Province Ban HIV/AIDS Group From Hosting Conference To Discuss Efforts To Fight Disease
Authorities in China's central Henan province have banned a group of HIV/AIDS advocates from holding a conference to discuss efforts to fight the disease, the China Alliance of People Living with HIV/AIDS said on Wednesday, Reuters reports. The conference, which was scheduled for Aug. 19 to Aug. 20, would have brought together 30 Chinese community-based HIV/AIDS groups and experts from Henan (Reuters, 8/15).
Blood-selling practices during the 1990s in Henan contributed to the spread of HIV, which affected about one million people, according to some advocates. The situation in Henan led officials to pledge reform, and the health ministry has said that it maintains stringent supervision of blood-collection centers in the country. According to China's Ministry of Health, it closed about 150 illegal collection and supply agencies nationwide in 2004, the last year for which official figures are available. The health ministry in July also ordered all blood-collection centers in the country to install video cameras to ensure that medical staff members are following regulations (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 7/12).
Henan authorities stopped the conference despite the organizers' compliance with government rules that bar the media, as well as people from outside the country and the province, from participating, Meng Lin from China Alliance said. "We just wanted to share our experience with other AIDS organizations so as to help patients, and also help the government to fight the disease," Meng said, adding, "The government said our organization was not registered and was illegal." A senior Henan government official said he could not comment because he had "no knowledge" of the issue.
Although China has become increasingly open about addressing HIV/AIDS, it remains "wary" of the involvement of nongovernmental organizations or foreign groups, Reuters reports. UNAIDS Executive Director Peter Piot in July said that harassment of civil society advocates remains a concern in the country. An estimated 650,000 people are living with HIV/AIDS in China, and health experts say the disease is spreading to the general population primarily by sexual transmission (Reuters, 8/15).