but AIDS activism threatens governments, including China now.
The news item is now about a week old. A major Chinese AIDS activist, Dr. Wan Yanhai, "disappeared" sometime after August 24. Relatives and human rights groups believe he has been detained by the police.
I delayed posting anything last week, because I was expecting immediate follow-up news or, absent news, a large outcry in the world's press. But nothing.
The activist, Wan Yanhai, is a former Chinese health official who was fired after he took up the causes of gay rights and AIDS in the mid-1990's. He has been involved in various small but influential projects in the last few years, including a Web site about H.I.V. and the creation of small support groups for patients.
He has also been instrumental in exposing a devastating AIDS epidemic in central China that is centered on Henan Province, where as many as a million poor farmers were infected through unsanitary blood collection schemes.
We don't know anything about his whereabouts, or the circumstances of his disapparance, but we do know a lot about him, and it's awesome. This is just for starters:
A small, soft-spoken man who generally works behind the scenes, Dr. Wan nonetheless absorbed some of the confrontational style of American AIDS activists during a 1997 fellowship in Los Angeles.
At a regional AIDS meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malyasia, two years ago, Dr. Wan rose from the audience to confront China's vice minister of health, who was at the podium.
More recently he has been involved in creating support and counseling groups for people with AIDS in rural China.
Last week, the Health Ministry received two petitions, which Dr. Wan's group had helped prepare, from farmers suffering from AIDS.
"We demand that the government provide free medicine, or medicine we can afford, and we demand the government produce copies of Western medicines as quickly as possible," read one petition, signed by 30 patients from Sui County in Henan.