AIDS victims to receive compensation

By Liu Li (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-12-05 07:30

A group of 19 AIDS patients in Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province will receive compensation worth a combined 20 million yuan (US$1.2 million) from the hospital where they were infected with HIV after receiving an illegal blood transfusion, their lawyer told China Daily yesterday.

The group had initially sought 30 million yuan (US$3.75 million), but then settled for 20 million yuan (US$1.2 million), sources said.

This case involves the largest single group of patients in China to be infected with HIV at the hospital where they were being treated. They have all since developed cases of AIDS.

The hospital will provide the 18 living victims with a lump sum payment of 200,000 yuan (US$25,500) plus 3,000 yuan (US$382) per month, according to Zhou Bin, a lawyer based in North China's Shanxi Province who had volunteered to help the AIDS patients recover compensation from the hospital. The hospital will also cover the victims' medical fees for the rest of their lives.

The family members of a victim who has succumbed to AIDS, surnamed Yang, will receive over 300,000 yuan (US$37,000) from the hospital.

Fifteen patients contracted the fatal HIV virus, which causes AIDS, after being treated at the hospital associated with the Heilongjiang Construction Farm in Bei'an County in 2004.

They all received blood transfusions from illegal blood sellers operating within the hospital. The blood had not been tested for the virus.

Three of the 15 patients passed the virus on to their spouses, and a mother infected her 5-year-old child, bringing to 19 the total number of victims.

The group filed their lawsuit last year against the hospital, demanding 30 million yuan (US$3.75 million) in total compensation. They have since accepted the lower offer, said sources with the Heilongjiang Construction Farm Intermediate People's Court.

Three staff members of the hospital were sentenced last June to two, five and 10 years in jail, respectively, for illegally collecting and supplying blood.

A man surnamed Sun and his wife were the sources of the HIV-contaminated blood in all the above cases. They couple had made a living selling blood to the Bei'an hospital and died before Yang.

Sources familiar with the case said the 19 AIDS patients have been living in poverty since they developed the illness.

This was not the first case of people being infected with HIV after receiving a blood transfusion at a hospital.

In Tongshan County in East China's Jiangsu Province, more than 30 local farmers have been infected with HIV in the past decade after accepting illegal blood transfusions.

In recent years, many victims have opted to sue hospitals for compensation after being infected by HIV under their care.

In 2004, the Hebei Provincial High People's Court ordered a local hospital in Xingtai to pay over 360,000 yuan (US$45,000) to the father of a girl who was infected with HIV while receiving medical treatment.

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