World AIDS Day comes early this year for hardened Henan activists
A group of more than 100 marched on the Ministry of Civil Affairs in Beijing yesterday with demands for improved services for those infected with HIV and compensation for families affected by the virus, many since the 1990s.
The protest, which came just days after incoming Premier Li Keqiang, whose portfolio will include overseeing HIV prevention, inherited the tradition begun by Wen Jiabao of meeting annually with AIDS groups to mark World AIDS Day, was attended by many activists from Henan province. According to longtime AIDS activist Hu Jia, some of those present have carried their grievances since Li's tenure as a top Communist Party and government official in Henan in the late 1990s through to 2004, a period of repression against HIV activists in the province.
Hu wrote last night that as Worlds AIDS Day falls on a Saturday this year and government offices will be closed, another protest march will be held today set to end again outside the Ministry of Civil Affairs.
The Beijing News today has a report which cites figures released Thursday by the Beijing Municipal Health Bureau which indicate HIV infection rates in the city have risen an average of 17 per cent annually over the past five years.
Photo of yesterday's protest in Beijing comes from Twitter user @dc_b.
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