Shoping Wang, a Chinese doctor who bravely lost her job, as well as ostracized, attacked and disrupted her first marriage to expose the spread of AIDS in rural China, died on September 21 in Salt Lake City. She is 59.
She died while walking in a canyon with her husband Gary Christensen. A pre-autopsy showed the cause was a heart attack, he said. In recent years, she has lived in Salt Lake City after settling in the United States.
Her death came just over two weeks after a stage play based on her experience as a whistle blower, discovered in London.
In the 1990s, she confronted Chinese officials who tried to hide the AIDS epidemic in rural China. There, the spread of H.I.V., the virus causing the blood-borne disease, was attributed to gloomy facilities that buy blood from poor farmers.
Dr. Wang was one of a group of Chinese doctors, researchers, activists and journalists who took great risks in spreading information about the hidden epidemic in Henan Province and other regions. She is the whistle that has produced evidence of this.
"Wang Shuping is the earliest medical worker involved in the war on AIDS," Gao Yaoji, a Henan doctor who becomes a public figure in the efforts to expose and treat the spread of AIDS there, writes in tribute. to Ms. Wang. "Because of this, she suffered the worst attacks and pain of her life."
After all, too late, according to Dr. Wang, the Chinese authorities shut down commercial blood stations that circulated H.I.V. and offer medical assistance to villagers who become infected, usually after they or family members sell blood.
Dr. Wang's pride in what she achieved was aroused by what she and her family had been through. After she took evidence of H.I.V. infections of staff and researchers in Beijing, her superiors in Henan attacked her.
A former medical officer, she said, uses a club to break Ms. Wang's lab and beat her. Local government shut down the lab, leaving it free of charge. Her marriage to an official working in the medical administration cracked under pressure.
A play based on the story of Dr. Wang, "The Palace of the King of Hell," by Francis Ja-Chou Kohig, recently had its premiere. at the Hampstead Theater in London.
"My speech was worth my job, my marriage and my happiness at the time, but it also helped save the lives of thousands and thousands of people," Dr. Wang said in a question-and-answer session on the theater's website. "I wanted to prevent the disease, I didn't care about power and the situation."
Shuping Wang was born Zou Shuping on October 20, 1959 in Fugu County, Henan. Her mother, Huang Yunling, was a village doctor; her father, Zu Bagian, is a math teacher who was a soldier in the nationalist forces defeated by Mao Zedong's communists.
After Mao started the Cultural Revolution in 1966 to cleanse China of alleged enemies, Dr. Wang's parents were attacked by her father's background and her education was interrupted when she was 8. She resumed school five years later, after leaving her home village and being adopted by her uncle. She took his last name Wang for her own.
In 1991, after medical school, Dr. Wang began working at the Phenan Collection Center in Henan. Her odyssey to AIDS activism begins with her interest in hepatitis, another infectious disease spread through blood and other body fluids.
Henan had fueled a boom in commercial blood collection, raising hundreds of thousands of poor farmers to sell blood for a few dollars, Dr. Wang found alarming levels of hepatitis C among people selling blood, and she worried that H.I.V. can also spread through the blood business.
Her bosses make fun of her. Chinese officials perceived AIDS as a foreign affliction and were reluctant to accept that H.I.V. can spread to farmers selling blood. In addition, they said, comprehensive testing for H.I.V.
Dr. Wang persisted. She used her savings to buy three H.I.V. test kits and randomly tested 408 virus samples. What she found amazes her: thirteen percent of the samples collected from blood sellers had the virus, an alarmingly high infection rate.
Commercial blood stations operated inexpensively. They took blood, removed the precious plasma and, through the transfusion, gave the sellers residual blood so that the stations could pay less and sellers recover more quickly to sell again. Station equipment was often dirty. Worse, they often mix the residual blood in baths, then pour it into groups of blood sellers, which significantly increases the risk of cross-infection.
Initially, a local employee praised Dr. Wang for her detective work, but soon withdrew and blamed her for missing evidence. She took 55 samples in Beijing for more tests. The Virology Institute refused to test them unless it paid an excessive amount. But Dr. Wang came across a researcher who understood the urgency of the matter and had 16 samples tested: 13 were definitely H.I.V. positive, three possibly positive.
"She had the courage to continue collecting and sharing data, even when employees did not want information to be disclosed," said Zhang Jicheng, a former Henan journalist who helped expose the spread of AIDS there. interview. "She had no official support; it was her personal choice and she suffered for it. ”
Even before Dr. Wang left Beijing, officials in Henan called. "You triggered an earthquake," one of her said.
In 1996, the government quietly took steps to shut down plasma collection stations and introduce H.I.V. tests. But tens of thousands – and probably many more – were infected through the blood trade and Henan tried to keep the epidemic a secret. For years, the infected have received little treatment and the underground trade in contaminated blood continues.
"Countless families were shattered and devastated by AIDS, leaving many orphans with AIDS," Dr. Wang wrote in 2014. "They had no one to turn to. "
She became a pariah among her colleagues. At one meeting, he formally referred to a "man" who had reconciled himself to AIDS.
"I'm the guy from the clinical research center you just mentioned," she told him. "But I am a woman."
Wang moved to Beijing in 1997 to find some protection working for a senior medical researcher. It was not the only concern about the spread of AIDS in rural Henan.
Dr. Gao, a provincial gynecologist, took up the issue and became the most famous face of the campaign to open and end the epidemic. She won many honors and later moved to a safe place in New York. Dr. Wang was the quiet insider who relayed information to experts, officials, diplomats and journalists and returned to Henan to help the affected peasants.
Dr. Wang, fleeing pressure in China, moved to the United States in 2001. He later became an American citizen, took on a new nickname Sunshine and found a job as a medical researcher, initially in Wisconsin. She never returned to China.
He married Mr. Christensen, Chief Financial Officer at Aquarium, in 2005, before settling in Salt Lake City.
In addition to her husband, she survived three children in the United Kingdom – Sami Gen, Julie Zu and David Zuu – and a brother in China, Zu Tiencheng
. q Wang couldn't avoid being intimidated. Chinese national security officials have clashed with her family and former colleagues in Henan to press her to end London production of the play for her, she said. She refused and received a standing ovation for the performance.
She told The Guardian, "I still won't be silent."