Minitrue: Do Not Repost News on Zhejiang HIV Infections
The following censorship instructions, issued to the media by government authorities, have been leaked and distributed online. The name of the issuing body has been omitted to protect the source.
The NetEase article above mentioned above covered a case last month at a hospital in Hangzhou, Zhejiang, where staff failure to follow standard procedures resulted in the infection of at least five patients with HIV. The South China Morning Post’s Jun Mai reports:
The statement [from the Zhejiang provincial health authority] said a serious medical incident had occurred at the Zhejiang Provincial Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine in Hangzhou and that the cases were first reported to the health authority on January 26.
[…] The staff member failed to follow procedure by disposing of needles after one use and is now under criminal investigation, according to the statement.
The virus was spread from a patient who is already HIV positive through the shared use of needles, according to the health authority.
Five officials at the hospital have been sacked, including its president and executive vice-president, the statement added. [Source]
At The Wall Street Journal, Fanfan Wang reports on the sensitivity of this story due to previous medical scandals in China—specifically high-profile ones involving HIV/AIDS—and also notes angry netizen reactions to the deletion of the recent news from Zhejiang:
China has become more transparent in its handling of epidemics and medical scandals since it was criticized for its tight grip on information during the 2003 outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome. But concerns around health safety regularly erupt, eroding trust in government oversight and transparency. Last year, a scandal over improperly handled vaccines exposed weak links in the distribution of vaccines across China.
[…] In the 1980s and ’90s, Beijing depicted HIV and AIDS as the result of decadent, capitalist lifestyles in the West. Authorities began being more open about the virus after a scandal in the ’90s, in which farmers in Henan province were infected with HIV after selling their blood to unlicensed blood banks, which re-injected red blood cells from a tainted pool to donors after extracting plasma. Henan officials only acknowledged a pattern of unsanitary practices years later.
[…] On Weibo, users expressed anger at the rapid deletion of the news.
One internet user who claimed to be involved in the same treatment as the newly infected patients said it was related to infertility and that dozens of couples were undergoing the same treatment. [Source]
Since directives are sometimes communicated orally to journalists and editors, who then leak them online, the wording published here may not be exact. Some instructions are issued by local authorities or to specific sectors, and may not apply universally across China. The date given may indicate when the directive was leaked, rather than when it was issued. CDT does its utmost to verify dates and wording, but also takes precautions to protect the source. See CDT’s collection of Directives from the Ministry of Truth since 2011.