Chinese authorities prohibit rights-based AIDS gathering

By staff writers
July 29, 2007

The Chinese authorities have prohibited a meeting of activists gathering to discuss the rights of people living with AIDS, because of official fears over foreign involvement in the sensitive issue - claims Reuters and the Christian Today news website.

The conference would have brought together 50 Chinese and overseas experts and campaigners to look athow to press the legal rights of people with HIV/AIDS, says the NGO concerned.

But the government told the New York-based Asia Catalyst group to cancel the meeting planned for early August 2007 in Guangzhou near Hong Kong in the south, said one of the organisers.

Sara Davis explained: "Authorities informed us that the combination of AIDS, law and foreigners was too sensitive. There are no plans to reschedule the meeting".

After years of denial, China has become increasingly open about AIDS in recent years, facing up to an epidemic once stigmatised as a disease of the West.

The country had 203,527 officially registered cases of HIV/AIDS by the end of April 2007, up from 183,733 at the end of October 2006. Of the latest figure, 52,480 had progressed to full-blown AIDS.

However, the United Nations estimates the true number of HIV/AIDS cases in the country to be around 650,000.

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