Residents of the Chinese village of Xiongiao in Henan province say they were attacked by hundreds of police officers in what they say was a government response to protests demanding better access to HIV care, The New York Times reports. Henan is home to as many as 1 million HIV-positive people, most of whom were infected during the 1980s and 1990s through unsafe blood collection practices. About one third of Xiongiao's population is infected with HIV. Police say they arrested 16 people in the June 22 raid on the village. Charges of robbery and attacking government offices have been filed against them. Villagers said the raid was in response to a protest by 200 village residents earlier that month outside government offices demanding access to anti-HIV treatments.
The Philadelphia-based AIDS Policy Project on Tuesday released a statement demanding the release of the prisoners and the establishment of HIV treatment programs in Henan province. "This raid was meant to send a message to people with AIDS in China," said Kate Kraus, director of the project, in the statement. "Instead, it's sending a message to the world: China is still mismanaging its AIDS epidemic."