While it’s no secret that China’s AIDS epidemic is exploding -- the UN estimates as many as 10 million cases by 2010 -- Chinese officials are still working their Great Wall of Silence. In a late-August twist, they detained the nation’s leading AIDS activist, Wan Yanhai, for leaking “state secrets.” The Aihzi (AIDS) Action Project leader had publicized his research into Henan Province’s notorious blood trade -- on which many officials illegally profited and an estimated one million Chinese were infected. Human-rights and AIDS activists worldwide stumped for his release; the Global Fund even threatened to withhold grant money. Wan ’fessed up to posting incriminating classified info online, and the pressure paid off: He was freed September 20 after four weeks, a mere wrinkle in time for a political prisoner in China.
November 1, 2002 • By Danielle Zielinski