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2005-12-16-Religious Leaders Discussing HIV/AIDS With Residents In China Arrested For Illegal Gathering
Police on Monday arrested 29 religious leaders in China's Henan province for holding an "illegal religious gathering" that the U.S.-based China Aid Association said was meant to spur discussion about HIV/AIDS among local residents, the Associated Press reports.
CAA on Wednesday in a news release said the religious leaders met to discuss assistance for HIV-positive residents who became infected through blood transfusions (Associated Press, 12/14). Hundreds of thousands of people in China in the early and mid-1990s contracted HIV through unsafe blood collection procedures.
Although the country outlawed blood sales in 1998 and reduced the number of blood collection organizations operating in the country, about 350 such groups currently operate and allegedly remain motivated by profit.
China's Ministry of Health last week announced new rules that will take effect in March and will "severely punish those responsible" for collecting and distributing untested blood that leads to people becoming infected with bloodborne diseases such as HIV (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 12/6).
According to a police official who only provided his surname, Hu, the police received a report that "70 or 80 people were having an unauthorized [religious] gathering." He added, "Police went there and took some of them to the police station for questioning, but now they are all free" (Associated Press, 12/14).
CAA on Wednesday confirmed that all of the leaders had been released on Tuesday "after intensive interrogations and heavy international media and U.S. government pressure" (BosNewsLife News, 12/14).