Shuping Wang was a Chinese-American medical researcher and public health whistleblower. She exposed poor practices that led to the spread of hepatitis C and HIV in central China in the 1990s, potentially saving tens of thousands of lives. In 2001, following harassment by Chinese officials, she moved to the United States, where she worked until her death.
The hero who helped expose Henan’s AIDS crisis was harassed, in the United States, by Chinese officials, until her death. Please read her story. https://t.co/bm7Atihwf0
— Emily Rauhala (@emilyrauhala) September 26, 2019
Shuping Wang Age
She was 59 Years at the time of death. (October 20, 1959 – September 21, 2019).
She died while hiking in a canyon with her husband, Gary Christensen. A preliminary autopsy indicated that the cause was a heart attack, he said. She had lived in Salt Lake City in recent years 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 opened in London.
This week on #MitoMonday we mourn the loss of Dr. Shuping Wang, who recently passed away, a beloved Utahn and courageous whistleblower who helped save thousands of lives by exposing the HIV and HCV epidemic of the early 1990s in China. #LateNightWithTheRutterLab pic.twitter.com/ZJzhf7xQKl
— Rutter Lab (@RutterLab) October 1, 2019
Wang was born with the family name Zou on October 20, 1959, in Fugou County, Henan. Her mother, Huang Yunling, worked as a village physician. Her father, Zou Banyan, was a mathematics teacher who served as a soldier of the Kuomintang Army, which made her childhood difficult during the Cultural Revolution. She refused the Red Guards’ command to denounce her parents and was expelled from school at the age of eight. Aged thirteen, she moved away from her village, was legally adopted by an uncle who belonged to the Communist Party, and adopted his surname, Wang. She was then allowed to continue her education.
In 1996, all the blood and plasma collection sites across the country were shut down for “rectification”. When they re-opened, HIV testing was added.
“I felt very gratified because my work helped to protect the poor,” she said. But others were not happy.
At a health conference later that year, a high-ranking official complained about that “man in a district clinical testing center [who] dared to report the HIV epidemic directly to the central government”.
“He said, [who is] the guy – how dare he [write] a report about this?” Dr. Wang told the BBC’s Woman’s Hour in an interview earlier this month.
“I stood up and said I’m not a man. I’m a woman and I reported this.”
Later that year, she was told by health officials that she ought to stop work. “I lost my job, they asked me to stay home and work for my husband,” Dr. Wang said.
Her husband, who worked at the Ministry of Health, was ostracised by his colleagues. Their marriage eventually broke down. In 2001, Dr. Wang moved to the US for work, where she took the English name “Sunshine”.
In the 1990s, she stood up to Chinese officials who had tried to conceal an AIDS epidemic in rural China. There, the spread of H.I.V., the virus that causes the blood-borne disease, had been attributed to shoddy facilities that bought blood from poor farmers.
Dr. Shuping Wang, who braved ostracism, assault, and the loss of her job to defy authorities and expose an AIDS epidemic in rural China, has died at age 59. Her death came weeks after a play based on her story opened in London.https://t.co/42NsKOLqwn
— The New York Times (@nytimes) October 1, 2019
Dr. Wang was one of a group of Chinese doctors, researchers, activists, and journalists who took great risks to spread information about the hidden epidemic in Henan Province and other regions. She was the whistle-blower who marshaled evidence of it.
“Wang Shuping was the earliest medical worker to enter the fray in the war against AIDS,” Gao Yaojie, a doctor from Henan, who become the public face of efforts to expose and treat the spread of AIDS there, wrote in a tribute to Ms. Wang. “For this, she suffered the most grievous attacks and pain of her life.”
Wang’s first husband was Geng Honghai, an employee of the Ministry of Health. They had a daughter, Samantha Geng. Wang’s husband Geng was shunned by his colleagues during Wang’s whistleblowing campaign, and their marriage ended in divorce.
After moving to the United States in 2001, Wang took the English name Sunshine. Wang never felt safe enough to return to China. In 2005, she married Gary Christensen. They had two children, Julie Zou, and David Zou.
Wang died from an apparent heart attack while she was hiking with Christensen in a canyon in Salt Lake City, Utah, on September 21, 2019.