China Discrimination Fuels HIV/AIDS
Investigation Urged into Blood Infection Scandal
Human Rights Watch
(Hong Kong, September 3, 2003) -- Widespread discrimination
people with HIV/AIDS is fueling the spread of the epidemic in
Human Rights Watch charged in a new report released today.
Many people living with HIV/AIDS have no access to health care
hospitals refuse to treat them. Human Rights Watch found that
hospital, the door to the AIDS clinic was actually padlocked.
National laws discriminate against people with HIV/AIDS, and
some local laws
ban them from using swimming pools or working in food service.
police send drug users to detoxification centers, where they
to labor without pay to make trinkets for tourists.
receiving help for their problem, they are driven underground,
it harder for the government to combat the AIDS virus.
The 94-page report, "Locked Doors: The human rights of
people living with
HIV/AIDS in China," is based on more than 30 interviews
with HIV/AIDS, police officers, drug users, and AIDS outreach
in Beijing, Hong Kong, and Yunnan province.
"Discrimination is forcing many people to live as
outcasts, and the Chinese
government tolerates it instead of combatting it," said
executive director of Human Rights Watch's Asia division.
"That is sure
to make the AIDS crisis worse."
The Human Rights Watch report documents:
- The spread of HIV through unsafe state-run blood collection
seven provinces, the cover-up of the epidemic
by local officials, and
the state's failure to provide treatment or hold
- Restrictions on freedom of expression, assembly, association
and the right
to information of those living with HIV/AIDS and those
seeking to help
- Discrimination based on HIV status by government hospitals
- Mandatory HIV testing in state facilities and violations of
- Lack of access to treatment and other issues in China's
problem-ridden health care system.
In Yunnan province, Human Rights Watch researchers visited
largest forced detoxification center, where drug users live in
unclean cells without adequate food or clean water. The
drug users for HIV without their knowledge, do not inform
test positive, and do not offer treatment for HIV/AIDS
Chinese government documents obtained by Human Rights Watch
prevalence rates among blood donors ranging from four to forty
across seven provinces, provinces that have a combined total
of 420 million. This suggests that the number of persons
with HIV is
much higher than the one million cases that Beijing officially
Beijing has recently issued some positive policy statements
asserting the importance of non-discrimination in national
plans. Some local legislatures, such as in Suzhou city, have
regulations to protect the rights of people with HIV/AIDS.
pilot AIDS education and prevention projects could be expanded
successful laws and practices in Hong Kong could be studied on
mainland. But the Human Rights Watch report emphasizes
relatively small number of projects fails to address the scope
escalating AIDS crisis.
"SARS showed the importance of national leadership and a
health system in fighting an epidemic," said Adams.
"It is time for
Beijing to show the same resolve in helping people with
The Chinese government continues to abet the local cover-up of
the world's greatest HIV/AIDS scandals, the Human Rights Watch
shows. Chinese citizens in seven central provinces contracted
through state-run blood collection centers, but few have
treatment or compensation, and not a single official has been
prosecuted to date.
"It is time for China to confront the blood collection
said. "Beijing should authorize a full and
into the involvement of local authorities in the blood
hold those responsible accountable. If China can't do
this, it should
ask the United Nations or another independent organization to
China should immediately start providing compensation and
anyone who directly or indirectly contracted HIV/AIDS as a
the unprecedented blood collection scandal, Adams said.
Locked Doors: The Human Rights of People Living with HIV/AIDS
in China is
available at: http://www.hrw.org/reports/2003/china0803
Accounts from Locked Doors: The human rights of people living
Someone from the Center for Disease Control will call the work
say "that person has AIDS"-and then the person gets
Cao, international NGO staff person
The government should help us and give us space, space in the
and space in the countryside. They should not
us. But this is easy to say and hard to do. In the
are many people who see us as garbage, as something they have
rid of to prevent their own loss of face.
Kong, drug user and person living with HIV/AIDS
I call up the hospitals first and tell them straight out that
They won't treat me ... When I get sick later, I might just
I'll go somewhere far away, a nice place, and wait to die.
Ji, person living with HIV/AIDS
People who are HIV-positive need emotional support. Many
they find out they are HIV positive, suffer very much and are
sad. They have many needs-psychological, medical, and
people just stay at home for years and years.
Zhang, AIDS activist