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Law to protect HB virus carriers
By Meng Yan (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-08-24 01:06

Millions of Hepatitis B virus (HBV) carriers may be protected from discrimination if a draft amendment to the law on the prevention and control of infectious diseases goes through.

"Any individual or organization should not discriminate against them," says the draft amendment. It also says government and society should care for and help the patients, virus carriers and suspected patients of infectious diseases and ensure they get timely treatment.

The law focuses specifically on 37 kinds of infectious diseases including hepatitis, AIDS and SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome).

It was submitted Monday to the Standing Committee of the 10th National People's Congress (NPC), the top legislative body, for a third round of deliberation.

It is expected to be put for a vote on Saturday when the committee wraps its latest session.

China has some 120 million HBV carriers -- equivalent to about 10 per cent of the population.

In April last year, university student Zhou Yichao stabbed two officials in East China's Zhejiang Province, killing one, when he was denied the qualification for a job in public service merely because he was an HBV carrier.

Zhou was later sentenced to death for murder.

His case sparked nationwide discussion on discrimination against HBV carriers.

In April this year, another graduate Zhang Xianzhu won the country's first job discrimination case involving the rights of non-infectious HBV carriers in Wuhu, in East China's Anhui Province.

Zhang sued the Wuhu government's personnel affairs bureau in December after he was rejected for employment because he has HBV.

The cases also motivated legislators to ban discrimination against all patients, virus carriers and suspect patients of infectious diseases into the draft amendment.

The amendment also bans illegal blood collection and requires the blood collecting institutions and biological material producers to strictly follow State standards and guarantee the quality of blood and blood-related products.

To hold back the spread of HIV/AIDS, the draft amendment requires governments at all levels to enhance their efforts in the prevention and control of the deadly disease.

It also calls on medical institutions to tighten management of disposable instruments to prevent the spread of infectious diseases.

Members of the NPC Standing Committee will also review the draft law on supervision during the five-and-a-half-day meeting.

They will make a preliminary discussion on the draft amendment to the electoral law for the NPC and people's congresses at all local levels again to push for democracy. The electoral law, adopted in 1979, has gone through three amendments in 1982, 1986 and 1995 respectively.

The lawmakers will review draft amendments to the laws on highway, corporation, securities, commercial instrument, auction, wildlife conservation, fishery and crop seeds as well as the regulation of academic degrees.

The draft amendments will cancel or change those clauses inconsistent with the Law on Administrative Licensing which took effect on July 1.

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