Jilin Province has the honor of hosting China’s latest AIDS outbreak

It’s easy to get numb to all the stories about AIDS in China and, in certain cases, to the government’s bending over backwards to either cover it up, minimize it or avoid responsibility.

The latest horror story comes from northeastern China’s Jilin province, where more than 60 have been infected (the number is possibly closer to 300) and at least 20 have died from AIDS after donating blood. According to Frank Lu, director of the HK-based Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy, the government is being its usual slippery self:

Government officials at various levels have covered up the infections to protect Liu Baozhong, party secretary of Soudengzhan, who has been singled out for praise by former President Jiang Zemin, Lu said.

“It is because of this that officials have covered up this serious matter,” he said. “AIDS is spreading in that town and other places around the country.”

A woman who answered the telephone at the Soudengzhan town government said only that “no one has contracted AIDS here.” She would give only her family name, Yao.

At Jilin’s city health bureau, which oversees Soudengzhan, a man who answered the telephone said he “hadn’t heard anything about the cases.” He refused to give his name.

I chatted online last night for the very first time with my cherished friend from Beijing, Ben, who asked, “Why are you always so hard on China?”

I tried to explain that it’s very simple: I hate the government that represses one of the world’s most industrious and brilliant people. I would do anything to give them a break, but the most I can ever say is that they are being less bad than they were in the past. This story only makes me more convinced that we need to remain on their case, day and night, highlighting that there is more to China than gleaming office towers, astronauts and unending cheap exports.

I still don’t think Ben understood. He is so proud and ambitious. I wanted him to understand that if I didn’t care about people like him, I wouldn’t care so much what the CCP does with its people.

Related post: The indescribable tragedy of AIDS in China

The Discussion: 7 Comments

New AIDS cases in Jilin; government cover-up

Reports of a deadly disease, and a government cover up. Sound familiar? Peking Duck tells us that Jilin is the newest province to host an AIDS breakout. Again, they contracted the disease by selling their blood and then getting infected:…

November 22, 2003 @ 5:11 pm | Comment

The horror of this story to me is not so much the governemnt denying a problem (so what else is new?) but that these people contracted their disease by *donating blood*. Twenty years after the US and European nations screen their donors and never reuse needles, and the PRC denies the need to reform its practices. The emblem of the nation is the ostrich.

November 22, 2003 @ 11:10 pm | Comment

Susan, the safeguards that we take for granted in the US — double lines separating lanes on the highway, safety measures in mines and factories, a screened and protected blood bank — often don’t exist in China. Or if they do exist, they often go unenforced, especially in the countryside, where these AIDS outbreaks occur.

November 23, 2003 @ 10:54 am | Comment

More Muzimei

A lot has been said recently about Muzimei, the Internet sex columnist currently causing a commotion in China with her kiss and tell bedroom tales. It’s all very Sex and the City. Many Chinese women enjoy chatting about sex and…

November 24, 2003 @ 1:22 pm | Comment

I was seriously thinking about donating blood, thinking that the infections due to donation was a thing of the past. But now…no way am I taking that chance.

November 24, 2003 @ 5:01 pm | Comment

I was seriously thinking about donating blood, thinking that the infections due to donation was a thing of the past. But now…no way am I taking that chance.

November 24, 2003 @ 5:01 pm | Comment

China’s Wen

China’s Prime Minister, Wen Jiabao, took his case to the American people and at least one of the American people

November 25, 2003 @ 7:25 pm | Comment

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