Chinese AIDS activist missing, may be detained

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com August 30 2002 12:00 AM ET

Wan Yanhai, a doctor who helped expose unsafe blood collection practices that may have led to hundreds of thousands of Chinese becoming infected with HIV and who has been a leading AIDS advocate in the country, is reportedly missing and may be detained by police, The Wall Street Journal reports. Police have not responded to media requests about Wan.

Human rights groups say that Wan recently published on his Web site statistics about HIV infection in Henan province--where a high number of blood-related HIV infections occurred--which could be seen by the government as the publication of state secrets. If arrested on such charges, Wan can be held indefinitely by police and be denied access to legal representation.

Some groups theorize that Wan was arrested as a means to silence government critics as part of preparations for a national Communist Party meeting to be held in a few months that will designate the next generation of the nation's leaders. Wan has been involved in a number of HIV/AIDS and gay rights efforts and has angered Chinese officials with his open criticism of government policies. An AIDS organization headed by Wan, the AIDS Action Project, was reportedly forced by government officials in July to shut down.