Chinese HIV/AIDS Advocate Forced Home After Attending World AIDS Day Ceremonies in Beijing
An HIV-positive Chinese advocate on Tuesday was forced back to her home in central Henan province after participating in ceremonies in Beijing marking World AIDS Day, Reuters India reports. Li Xige, who had previously been under house arrest for more than two years because of her search for compensation and judicial action, contracted HIV from a blood transfusion in 1995 and transmitted it to her daughters, one of whom died from AIDS-related illnesses. Henan province was the center of numerous HIV/AIDS cases in the 1990s, when unhygienic blood-buying schemes and a lack of testing allowed the virus to spread to recipients of blood transfusions. The Henan government often has sought to block media coverage of the issue to avoid embarrassment from discontentment of people there living with HIV/AIDS, Reuters India reports (Hornby, Reuters India, 12/3).
In addition, "[a]fter years of denying that AIDS was a problem, Chinese leaders have shifted gears in recent years, confronting the disease more openly and promising anonymous testing, free treatment for the poor and a ban on discrimination against people with the virus," the AP/Google.com reports. However, advocates "walk a thin line in their work and are often detained, threatened or even attacked" (Sanderson, AP/Google.com, 12/3).
According to Reuters India, Li was escorted to her home Tuesday and warned to stop speaking out or she would be imprisoned. Li said she was being prevented from leaving her home by five officials (Reuters India, 12/3). She had escaped her home about 10 days ago and went to Beijing to also give a statement to the Supreme Court after a local court refused to hear her case demanding compensation from a local hospital where she contracted HIV; the Supreme Court turned her away, the AP/Google.com reports (AP/Google.com, 12/3). Li said she wants the Chinese government "to take responsibility for not having told me so many years that I had [HIV] ... I've been from government offices to court to government offices again, bounced about like a ball" (Reuters India, 12/3). Wan Yanhai, founder of a not-for-profit organization working on HIV/AIDS education and awareness, said that Li's case exposes how attitudes toward the disease in China need to change. "Every year on the AIDS Day we see leaders visiting AIDS patients. But we also see people who contracted AIDS and asked for compensation taken away by police" (AP/Google.com, 12/3).