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China bars Aids worker from US trip
Family and friends visiting Gao's home are interrogated by Chinese authorities.
Last Modified: 05 Feb 2007 08:13 GMT
China has openly confronted the deadly 
disease in recent years [GALLO/GETTY]
The Chinese government has barred a prominent Aids activist from attending an awards ceremony in the US next month in recognition of her work promoting women's legal rights in China.
 
Gao Yaojie, a retired doctor, was placed under house arrest on Thursday, days before a trip to Beijing to apply for a US visa, Hu Jia, a fellow activist, said.
Visiting friends and family were blocked or interrogated before being allowed into Gao's home, Hu said on Monday.
 
The doctor in her 80s, among China's most prominent and tenacious Aids activists, was to be honoured by a charity supported by Hillary Clinton, the senator for New York.
Hu said Henan authorities had warned Gao not to attend the Vital Voices Global Partnership awards ceremony next month in Washington but she refused to comply.
 
He said Zhengzhou city authorities put her under house arrest.
 
Her daughter is under constant police surveillance.
 
Local officials have refused to comment on the case.
 
Hu said Gao was to be honoured for her work promoting women's legal rights in China.
 
Twice barred
 
Gao had once before been refused a passport in 2001 to go to Washington to accept an award from a United Nations group.
 
In the late 1990s, she alerted people in her eastern home province of Henan about an Aids outbreak being spread by tainted blood transfusions, efforts which earned her numerous awards.
 
Health officials had accused her of helping "anti-China forces" by speaking openly to the press and distributing brochures about the spread of the disease among poor farmers due to the selling of tainted blood.
 
Chinese leaders have since become more open in confronting the disease, promising anonymous testing, free treatment for the poor, and a ban on blood sales and discrimination against people with the virus.
 
But Aids workers still face frequent harassment by local authorities who fear their activism will reflect badly on them, possibly jeopardising their jobs or chances for advancement.
 
Gao's activism began in 1996 when she wrote and printed copies of a basic Aids information pamphlet for distribution at Zhengzhou's long-distance bus stations.
 
Since then, she has distributed medicine, cared for orphans of parents who had died from Aids, written a book about China's epidemic and hosted patients in her modest apartment.
Source:
Agencies
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