19 HIV-Positive People in China Win Compensation from Hospital After Contracting Virus from Unscreened Blood
A group of 19 HIV-positive people in Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province will receive about $2.5 million from the hospital where they contracted the virus after receiving transfusions of unscreened, illegal blood, a court ruled on Tuesday, Reuters reports (Reuters, 12/5). China's Ministry of Health in October 2005 announced new rules that would severely punish those responsible for collecting and distributing untested blood that leads to people becoming infected with bloodborne diseases such as HIV through subsequent transfusions. The rules, which took effect in March 2006, are intended to enforce a 1998 ban on blood sales and also will make collection centers responsible for the safety of donated blood (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 12/22/05).
Details of Case, Reaction
Fifteen hospital patients, the largest single group of patients in China to contract HIV in a hospital in which they were receiving treatment, in 2004 contracted the virus at the hospital associated with the Heilongjiang Construction Farm in Bei'am County. Three of the patients passed the virus on to their spouses, and a mother transmitted the virus to her child, bringing the total number of people who became HIV-positive as a result of the unsafe transfusions to 19, according to the China Daily/People's Daily. The hospital will pay the 18 living HIV-positive people $25,500 each plus $382 monthly, according to their lawyer Zhou Bin. In addition, the hospital will cover the patients' medical costs for the rest of their lives. The family members of a patient who died of AIDS-related illnesses will receive $37,000 from the hospital, according to China Daily/People's Daily (China Daily/People's Daily, 12/5). The couple who sold the contaminated blood products to the hospital have died, and three of the hospital's staff in June 2005 were given jail terms lasting from two to 10 years, Reuters reports (Reuters, 12/5). Wan Yanhai, head of the Beijing Aizhixing Institute of Health Education, said the combined compensation to the patients was the largest ever awarded in China. "This will set a good precedent," Wan said, adding, "This case will help many other sufferers get what they need" (Agence France Presse, 12/4).