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Last Updated: Wednesday, 15 June, 2005, 08:38 GMT 09:38 UK
China Aids activists 'harassed'
By Rupert Wingfield-Hayes
BBC News, Beijing

Two people with Aids from China's central Henan province
People with Aids in China still feel stigmatised
An international human rights group has accused China of continuing to harass Aids activists working in the country.

The report, by Human Rights Watch, says people working with Aids patients face intimidation and even imprisonment.

The report comes days after China published a new law to protect people with Aids from discrimination.

China's communist government may be changing its attitude to those with Aids, but it appears it is still deeply hostile to those trying to help.

According to Human Rights Watch, Aids activists working in badly hit areas of central China are regularly intimidated and have even been beaten up by thugs hired by the local government.

The report says local governments in central China fear publicity about their Aids problem will ruin the investment environment.

It also accuses the Chinese government of continuing to censor information that could help prevent high risk groups from catching the HIV virus.

It says websites that try to promote safe sex and educate intravenous drug users are regularly shut down.

China is thought to have about one million people with HIV.

The largest concentration is in the centre of the country, where tens of thousands of poor farmers contracted HIV through government-run blood buying schemes in the 1990s.

The United Nations says that without immediate action to educate the public, China could have 10 million people with HIV by the end of the decade.


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