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Beijing more open about AIDS

Beijing more open about AIDS

A filmmaker who won an Oscar for a documentary about Chinese orphans who lost their parents to AIDS says Beijing is now more open about the disease after being accused of covering up the 2003 SARS outbreak.

''Since 2003, after SARS, they're open about it. I would say they're not doing it for show,'' said Ruby Yang, who won an Oscar last month for her 39-minute documentary, The Blood of Yingzhou District.

China had been accused of covering up the outbreak of SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, which killed 349 people there and 774 worldwide.

Yang said at a talk at the University of Hong Kong late Friday that the Chinese government ''put a lot of effort'' into public service announcements about AIDS that she helped produce. ''Their attitude has changed a lot,'' she said.

Still, the Beijing-based Chinese-American filmmaker was cautious when asked whether anyone had been punished in the blood-selling schemes that helped spread AIDS in China in the 1990s. Operators used dirty needles, and people selling plasma--the liquid in blood--were replenished from a pooled blood supply that was contaminated with HIV.

''I read that some officials got jailed, but still the main people responsible have not been punished,'' she said. ''I'd rather not discuss this.''

The Chinese government and the United Nations say China's problem of tainted blood has largely been brought under control. Last year, only about 5% of new reported HIV infections were blamed on blood selling, which has been banned, or on tainted transfusions, the health ministry says.

Surviving victims say they have not been adequately compensated for their suffering and are unfairly discriminated against.

The Blood of YingzhouDistrict focuses on the discrimination against orphans of parents who have died of AIDS.

Yang said she hopes to show a longer version of the movie in China with updates about the children. (AP)

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