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Sunday 18 October 2009

China: Woman accused of intentionally infecting 30 men (update)

Update: 19th October

News sources from China, including this English-language report from China Daily, say that this story was an elaborate hoax perpetrated by the woman's disguntled ex-boyfriend.

An illicit blog that has swept the Internet and claims to tell the story of an "HIV-infected prostitute" is a sick hoax by an angry ex-boyfriend, police said yesterday. The post, which featured 300 indecent pictures of [the woman], along with 279 cell phone numbers of "former clients", emerged last week and rapidly spread across the nation's Web portals. The post claims the 30-year-old was raped by her stepfather at 15 and had become a waitress at karaoke bars in Beijing, and that the cell numbers were published in revenge against society. However, police in Yan's native Rongcheng county, Hebei province, told China Daily yesterday that the blog had been written by the woman's ex-lover - a married man from Beijing.

The suspect, whose name has not been released, had demanded 5,000 yuan ($730) from [the woman] when they split up but she refused, said a local police officer who declined to be named. The man later told police the woman's brother had attacked him, the officer said. The suspect then returned to the capital and, using the cell numbers he had received at the Rongcheng county police station, began to send indecent pictures of Yan to several officers via SMS. "We have kept those text messages and we will sue him for smearing our reputation," said the officer, whose number was one of those listed on the blog.

Another news report, published in Chinese, says that the woman was tested for HIV by the public health authorities and intial results are that she is, in fact HIV-negative.

Original post: 18th October

A South Korean news website has run a story from their Beijing correspondent alleging that TV stations and other media in China are reporting that a former female sex worker in China is under suspicion of intentionally trying to infect hundreds of male sex partners with HIV and that at least 30 of these men are HIV-positive.

I was alerted to the story by a blog reader, a law professor in South Korea, who points out that since South Korea has created a climate of fear and misinformation around HIV in the country, which has policies that blame foreigners for bringing and 'spreading' HIV in the country, and, have targeted non-Korean national English language teachers in particular, the reporting may well be inaccurate or biased.

The reader has found no other reports about the case, and certainly none have appeared in the English language. Although the report cannot be verified, I do know that in 2006 the Chinese government announced that China was going to start to prosecute individuals "who know they are infected with AIDS or are sick with AIDS and deliberately infect" others.

The report, on (fuzzy English Google translation version here) claims that the Chinese woman (who is named and pictured in the report) intentionally tried to infect several hundred men in several cities in China by having sex with them and not disclosing her HIV status. She allegedly had the phone numbers of 279 men on her cellphone, which the report suggests is proof enough that she slept with all of them.

It also claims that she admitted on her blog that she slept with men indiscriminately in order to get 'revenge' for having become HIV-positive herself and that her life was so awful she didn't care what happened to her. A relative tells the paper that she was raped by her stepfather when she was 15, and after she ran away from home she became a sex worker in order to survive.

It notes that Chinese society has been shocked by these reports, although it is unclear whether she has been arrested or charged with any crime, since it states that she is currently staying with friends in Beijing.

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