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Dr. Gao Yaojie, Renowned for Exposing AIDS Epidemic in Rural China, Passes Away at Age 95

Dr. Gao Yaojie, a Chinese doctor who worked to expose an AIDS epidemic in rural China, has passed away at 95 in her Upper Manhattan home. Her efforts initially brought her acclaim across the globe, but her critics in the Communist Party ultimately forced her to spend her final decade in New York City.

Dr. Gao’s relentless work to stop the spread of AIDS in the late 1990s brought attention to the issue, with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton praising her. She exposed the way blood collection in villages spread the disease and led to countless deaths. At the time of her death, Dr. Gao was remembered by her colleagues as having been brave, independent, and devoted to helping others.

Born in eastern Shandong Province in 1927, she grew up during the Japanese invasion of China and endured hardship and suffering during Mao’s Cultural Revolution. Despite facing house detention and pressure from officials for exposing the AIDS outbreak, Dr. Gao remained a resilient and dedicated advocate for those afflicted. A roving advocate for women’s health in 1996, she personally visited countless sick patients and exposed the dangerous methods used by unscrupulous blood collection stations to spread infectious diseases.

In the early 2000s, the AIDS epidemic in rural China drew international attention, and Dr. Gao’s vocal campaigning attracted praise and scrutiny from Chinese officials. Ultimately, she was forced to leave China for the United States and spent her last years in New York. She continued to write and give talks about her experiences and was remembered by her peers and critics as an extraordinary and dedicated advocate. Dr. Gao passed away leaving behind a legacy of bravery and compassion, and her impact on the fight against AIDS remains an important chapter in the history of global health issues.

Photo credit www.nytimes.com


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