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Reference Material: Manmade Calamities in China: From AIDS to SARS

May 15, 2003 |   By Susan

(Clearwisdom.net) The spread of SARS has reminded me of a report on a website about how China has dealt with AIDS. When I found the report and read it carefully, I was shocked. According to the experts' estimates, 600,000 people were infected with HIV/AIDS in 2001, and the number had increased to at least 1 million by the end of 2002.

There are over 80 so-called "AIDS villages" in Henan Province. Due to unsanitary operations and blood transfusions, the villagers were infected with AIDS. Local villagers told AFP reporters that the authorities had examined Wenlou Village and found that 65% of villagers had been infected with AIDS, 40 people had died of it, and another five had committed suicide because they were unable to pay the medical bills. In Xincai County, there is another AIDS village named Donghu, which has 4,500 residents. It is estimated that over 80% adults are HIV/AIDS carriers, and over 60% of all people have been infected with HIV. Almost each and every family has AIDS carriers. The New York Times reported that this constitutes the highest rate of infection in the world.

Even more alarming is that the mobile blood collection vehicles were passing through Henan Province. The virus was so widespread that AIDS cases appeared everywhere throughout the entire province. The blood reserves were sent to the national hospital's blood center, so that blood contaminated with HIV was distributed to the whole country. After a lag time of several years, AIDS probably will be widespread in Mainland China.

Regarding such calamities, the Chinese government, from the central to the local level, has adopted one main method-- to utterly neglect the patients and ignore their desperate condition. They have tried to cover up the facts to the outside and they even persecuted people who tried to disclose the truth and offered help to the patients.

In May 2000, the New York Times published a first report about the appearance of an AIDS village in Xincai County, Henan Province. In July, reporters from a newspaper in Frankfort, Germany and the magazine Newsweek in the United States went to cover the same story and they were detained for a half-day. In August 2001, the local government detained two German reporters because they gathered news in an AIDS village. There were not released until after several hours of interrogation.

According to an AFP report, since early 2000, a 74-year-old retired doctor in Henan Province of China, named Gao Yaojie, has been offering help to sick farmers of Shangcai County. She therefore was awarded the 2001 Jonathan Mann Heath and Human Rights Award from the Global Health Council, a non-profit organization based in the United States. However, Chinese authorities barred Gao from traveling to the U.S. to accept the honor. She was criticized for working for "Anti-China groups", and was constantly intimidated by the authorities. She was forbidden to be interviewed by reporters. Since that time, she has not been allowed to enter the villages with the HIV-infected farmers.

The BBC reported on November 22 that four men were infected with HIV after a blood transfusion, and that they went to the local hospital for treatment. However, they were arrested and detained by police on the charge of "disturbing the social order".

The New York Times reported that a meeting was held in Beijing on World AIDS Day at the end of November 2001, discussing the AIDS problems. However, at the same time, officials in Chengguan Town, Henan Province held three reporters in the information/reception room of the town for interviewing HIV-infected farmers. Eleven farmers who had already been interviewed were detained in the Town Hall/Office. Fifty HIV-infected villagers gathered outside the office and shouted in protest. A 35-year old mother of three, Xie Yang, said, "They didn't allow us in, so we have to condemn them outside." Her husband died of AIDS in the spring of 2001. The doctor told her that in two years, she would also die of AIDS. She said, "We shouted, 'Villagers have died one after another, and you did nothing but detain the people. What type of officials are you anyway!'" "To them, we are like bubbles. They know as long as they ignore us, we will die soon."

In January 2002, police interfered with a French reporter who was covering an AIDS Village. Fortunately, the angry villagers stopped the police so that the reporter could get away.

Radio Free Asia reported in May 2002 that Francesco Zizola, a famous Italian photographer who has earned many world-level news photography awards was taken away by police when he prepared to interview AIDS patients and Doctor Gao Yaojie who had rescued AIDS patients in a village in Henan. He was interrogated for 4 or 5 hours, then was released and summarily expelled from the country.

According to a report by Radio Free Asia on September 12, 2002, 38-year-old Wan Yanhai is the founder and an activist of the AIDS Action Program in Mainland China. This program aims at defending the human rights of AIDS-affected people in China. In a most recent investigative report on AIDS patients, he estimated that in one AIDS disaster area in Henan alone, there were 34,198 affected patients, and over 3,000 had already died. The situation was more severe than what was officially reported. Following this report, he was charged with "leaking national secrets" and was arrested on August 25 in Beijing.

On June 5, 2002, the United Nations delivered a most serious warning to Beijing, saying that China will face an AIDS catastrophe. The affected area will be beyond any imagination, and the number of HIV-infected people will be the highest in the world. They estimated that in China, over 1 million people have been infected with HIV. They criticized the Chinese government for being sluggish in implementing AIDS prevention measures. They should have adopted emergency methods.

On August 7, 2002, David Murphy, a reporter of the Far Eastern Economic Review wired an article from Beijing saying that HIV and AIDS were spreading rapidly across China. The report also indicated that the Chinese top leaders had not taken seriously the threat posed by the emerging AIDS crisis in China. Instead, all of the country's resources had been used to flatter Jiang's latest political theory, the "Three Represents", and to launch a campaign of persecution against Falun Gong.