Wan Yanhai, the former Chinese Health Ministry official who founded the Aizhixing Institute to raise AIDS awareness and fight stigma, has fled China with his wife and 4-year-old daughter.
"The attacks from the government had become very serious for my organization and for me personally," Wan said from the home of a friend in Philadelphia. "I had concerns about my personal safety and was under a lot of stress."
Wan had been detained or questioned by police several times since he established the institute in 1994, but he said the pressure had been increasing in recent months. A new burden was the government's decision in March to strictly regulate the funding that nongovernmental groups receive from overseas donors.
"Funding became a major problem for us after that," he said. Wan also learned the government had told universities across China not to invite him to speak.
Wan vowed that the work of the Aizhixing Institute -- which gained international attention for exposing how a government-backed blood-buying scheme led to a widespread HIV outbreak in Henan province -- would continue.