Chinese AIDS activist prevented from receiving award (again)

PETER PARKS/AFP/Getty For at least the third time, the Chinese government has blocked Gao Yaojie—a Chinese doctor who has played a critical role in drawing attention to China’s HIV/AIDS crisis—from leaving the country to accept an award from Vital Voices, a U.S.-based advocacy group supported by Hillary Clinton. Gao was prevented by police from leaving her house, causing ...

PETER PARKS/AFP/Getty

For at least the third time, the Chinese government has blocked Gao Yaojie—a Chinese doctor who has played a critical role in drawing attention to China's HIV/AIDS crisis—from leaving the country to accept an award from Vital Voices, a U.S.-based advocacy group supported by Hillary Clinton. Gao was prevented by police from leaving her house, causing her to miss her flight to Beijing (where she was planning to apply for her visa).

Gao Yaojie was one of the first people to expose the "blood scandal" in Henan province, in which local authorities knowingly allowed blood contaminated with HIV to spread throughout Henan's blood supply, which has created around 100,000 orphans. In the 1990s, local officials set up clinics and began paying peasants $5 for blood donations to meet the massive shortage of blood in local hospitals. But because donors were suffering from anemia from giving away too much blood, the collectors switched to taking only plasma, then pooling the blood of different types together, and re-injecting the remaining blood into the donors—a sure-fire way to spread diseases quickly.

PETER PARKS/AFP/Getty

For at least the third time, the Chinese government has blocked Gao Yaojie—a Chinese doctor who has played a critical role in drawing attention to China’s HIV/AIDS crisis—from leaving the country to accept an award from Vital Voices, a U.S.-based advocacy group supported by Hillary Clinton. Gao was prevented by police from leaving her house, causing her to miss her flight to Beijing (where she was planning to apply for her visa).

Gao Yaojie was one of the first people to expose the “blood scandal” in Henan province, in which local authorities knowingly allowed blood contaminated with HIV to spread throughout Henan’s blood supply, which has created around 100,000 orphans. In the 1990s, local officials set up clinics and began paying peasants $5 for blood donations to meet the massive shortage of blood in local hospitals. But because donors were suffering from anemia from giving away too much blood, the collectors switched to taking only plasma, then pooling the blood of different types together, and re-injecting the remaining blood into the donors—a sure-fire way to spread diseases quickly.

Authorities have tried to cover up the scandal by arresting AIDS activists, closing down orphanages, and trying desperately to prevent the media from getting wind of it. Thanks to people like Gao, though, they haven’t succeeded entirely.

(Hat tip: China Shakes the World by James Kynge)

Prerna Mankad is a researcher at Foreign Policy.

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