Chinese Doctors, Police Report Needle Attacks That May Use HIV-Infected Blood
Police in the northern Chinese city of Tianjin have reported that "a small number of culprits" on busy streets stuck people with needles that may have been tainted with HIV-infected blood, Reuters reports. The attackers are rumored to be "AIDS victims ... seething over hefty drug prices and inadequate government care," who were wielding "syringes of blood," according to doctors and police. Several hospitals have reported testing "more than a dozen" people for HIV after they were "pricked by unknown people with syringe needles." A doctor at the Tianjin Medical College Hospital said he could not confirm the attacks, adding that some of the patients had "needle holes in their arms and buttocks," while others did not. In response to the rumors, police posted notices on university campuses stating: "A very small number of criminals with ulterior motives have been attacking people with needle-like objects and viciously spreading rumors." The rumors -- some of which are circulating on university Web sites -- suggest that HIV-positive residents of Henan province, where HIV infection rates could be as high as 65% in some villages, could be responsible for the attacks. Police "knew nothing of the reports" of Henan residents' involvement and were investigating the allegations, which have not been reported in state-controlled newspapers. Tianjin police "declined to say if any arrests had been made" (Reuters, 1/18).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.