15 arrested in blood selling scandal
Police have moved to arrest 15 people in connection with an illegal blood selling scandal which has been blamed for spreading HIV/AIDS, officials announced yesterday.
According to Vice-Minister for Health Ma Xiaowei, the arrests are all linked to 106 known cases involving unsafe blood collection, the illegal organization of people to sell plasma, and serious malpractice in supervising the blood market.
Ma made the announcement at a national television and telephone conference campaigning against the unsafe blood market, one of the main causes for the spread of blood borne diseases, including HIV/AIDS, in China in the early 1990s.
Thousands of farmers in places such as Central China's Henan Province and North China's Shanxi Province, relied on selling their blood to illegal blood banks to earn money.
Many of those who took part in the practice have since been diagnosed with HIV/AIDS.
According to a survey carried out last year by Henan provincial health authority, of 280,000 people identified as having used the illegal blood banks in the early 1990s, 25,000 have tested HIV positive.
Since the end of the 1990s, China has made efforts to crack down on illegal blood collection sites, Ma said. Lots of illegal stations have been closed and huge funds have been invested to improve official blood collection hospitals and stations, said Ma.
Voluntarily donated blood now accounts for more than 80 per cent of all clinical consumption.
However, the fight must be continued as many illegal blood stations are hiding themselves more deeply than ever, Ma said.
(China Daily 04/14/2005 page2)