- Associated Press - Saturday, February 12, 2011

BEIJING (AP) - A Chinese AIDS activist has been sentenced to a year in prison for smashing equipment at the hospital where he was infected, his lawyer said Saturday.

Tian Xi plans to appeal the punishment, handed down a day earlier in Xincai County People’s Court of central China’s Henan province after he was convicted of intentionally damaging property, lawyer Liang Xiaojun said.

Tian told the court it did not consider the links between the cause and effect, and only punished him and not the hospital,” Liang said.

Phones in several offices at the Xincai County No. 1 People’s Hospital and the court rang unanswered Saturday.

Police took Tian into custody in August after a run-in with an administrator at the hospital, where he had been given a tainted blood transfusion as a boy.

Tian lost his temper and smashed office equipment after the official said there was nothing he could do about Tian’s case and walked out of their meeting, Tian’s father has said.

The 24-year-old has petitioned for compensation for years and has been outspoken in his advocacy for others who have contracted HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, through tainted blood supplies.

After ignoring or demonizing people with AIDS for much of the 1980s and ‘90s, China’s authoritarian government has taken a more compassionate line on the disease and combating its spread in recent years. But people with AIDS still face difficulties in getting treatment and compensation, and authorities remain deeply suspicious of independent activists.

Liang said Tian was physically weak at his court appearance on Friday and was still recovering from a serious cold. Tian is being held an unheated cell at the Shangcai County Detention Center along with a half-dozen other inmates with HIV or AIDS, the lawyer said.

Infected inmates are more common in Henan due to unregulated blood-buying schemes there in the mid-90s that contaminated blood supplies.