- Several hundred Chinese villagers protested this week
outside a local government office demanding free medicine after claiming
that botched collections of blood left them infected with HIV.
- Witnesses told the Financial Times that Aids sufferers
and HIV carriers, mainly from the central province of Henan, began
at a government office in Chengguan town on Monday.
- Their demands had not been met by Thursday in spite of
talks between local authorities and protesters, witnesses said.
- The Aids issue is potentially explosive for the Chinese
government because there are numerous villages in Henan - more than 50
according to one local expert - in which a high proportion of the
has contracted HIV after the sale of blood in the 1990s to negligent
often run by local officials.
- Dirty needles were regularly reused, spreading the virus.
The blood collected was then often pooled, contaminating blood banks kept
- An almost complete ignorance of HIV and Aids in the
until recently contributed to transmission through sexual contact.
- The local population is poor and it was not uncommon
for people to sell their blood 20 times a month, receiving about Rmb40
(£3.40) for 500ml, said Zhao Yong, an HIV carrier in Henan whose
wife has died of Aids.
- In some Henan villages, more than 60 per cent of the
population is infected, experts say.
- China has kept its Aids problem virtually taboo until
last week, when it held its first international conference on Aids and
acknowledged about 600,000 cases nationwide.
- Some health experts and one official newspaper said the
government grossly underestimated the number of sufferers.
- The demonstration in Chengguan appears to have been
in part by the detention of a camera crew from CCTV, the official Chinese
TV broadcaster, and a Beijing doctor, who were making a report on the
of those infected.
- Residents welcomed the doctor and the journalists,
they might help their quest for compensation and free medicine. But local
officials, who stood to lose prestige and possibly their jobs, detained
the visitors and expelled them from the area.
- The appetite for compensation has been sharpened by the
publicised case last week of a court award of $43,770 (£31,011)
for a four-year-old girl in the northern province of Hebei whose mother
died of Aids in 1999 after receiving contaminated blood following the
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