HIV Will ‘Spread Unimpeded’ in China if Officials Continue To Withhold Information on Epidemic, Editorial Says
If China wants "to play a major role on the world stage, now is the time for it to show that it can be a responsible player" in the fight against HIV/AIDS, a Contra Costa Times editorial says. The Chinese government has "been in denial" about the "growing presence" of HIV/AIDS in the country and has not learned from its "disastrous experience" in failing to address for months the spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, in the country, according to the Times. If the government continues to deny their AIDS epidemic, China could lose a $100 million grant from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the editorial says. The fund has already rejected two earlier applications for funding, partly because the Chinese government has attempted to hide the country's epidemic, according to the Times. The Chinese government also has tried "to quash vitally important information that affects the health of it's people and ... the world," the Times says (Contra Costa Times, 10/10). Chinese officials in August arrested Ma Shiwen, deputy director of the Henan Center for Disease Control, for allegedly leaking to the HIV/AIDS advocacy group Aizhi Action documents about a blood collection scandal that infected as many as two million people in Henan province with HIV (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 10/7). Aizhi Action Director Wan Yanhai in 2002 was detained for one month by Chinese officials after posting a classified document on his Web site. The report showed that provincial officials knew HIV was a problem as early as 1995 (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 8/20). In addition, hundreds of policemen in June raided a village in Henan province, abusing residents and arresting 13 people in what villagers said was a response to protests calling for better access to medical care, including HIV/AIDS treatment (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 7/8). "If Chinese officials continue to downplay the spread of AIDS the way they hid the SARS epidemic, AIDS sufferers will continue to go without care and the disease will spread unimpeded," the editorial concludes (Contra Costa Times, 10/10).This is part of the Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.