China admits Aids crisis : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Thursday, 9 August, 2001, 03:05 GMT 04:05 UK

China admits Aids crisis

By Rupert Wingfield-Hayes in Beijing The Chinese Government has made a tacit admission that it faces a serious Aids crisis in central China.

Hundreds of thousands were infected with HIV when they sold blood For nearly a year, Aids activists, along with local and foreign media, have been telling the government it has a serious Aids crisis in Henan province.

Foreign journalists who have visited the area speak of villages filled with despair, where half the population is either dead or dying.

Up to now, the government's response has been containment and denial.

But now for the first time, it has admitted there is a problem.

The Communist Party says it has sent a team of health officials, including a vice-minister of health, to one of the worst hit villages in Henan.

Journalists report villages filled with despair The party says a special clinic has been set up in the village to give 24-hour care to those suffering from Aids-related illnesses.

But the doctor who first brought the crisis to the world's attention a year ago called the government's action a "cosmetic gesture".

She said Aids in the affected area is no longer a disease that can be controlled by such measures.

More than half a million people in central China are believed to have become infected by selling their blood to local government-run blood banks in the mid and late 1990s.

Villagers have told how blood was taken from several people at the same time and pooled in one container, where the blood plasma was removed.

The remaining blood was then pumped back into the donors' bloodstreams.

Such unsanitary methods, plus the re-use of needles and unsterilized equipment, gave the disease an easy pathway to spread rapidly through the local population.

-- Martin Thompson (, August 09, 2001

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