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28 infected with HIV after illegal blood sales
By He Na (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-12-22 06:34

CHANGCHUN: A 41-year-old man surnamed Song who was infected with HIV sold his blood 17 times in a one-and-a-half-year period, leading to the infection of 28 people, nine of whom have now died, local officials in the northeast city of Dehui, near Jilin provincial capital Changchun, revealed yesterday.

In addition to the blood recipients, two of Song's sex partners and one of their spouses, have been diagnosed with the virus.

The scandal came to light when a woman surnamed Wang tested HIV positive in September. She had been suffering from fever throughout the year but doctors could not pinpoint the reason.

She was infected by contaminated blood during surgery at Dehui Municipal Hospital in March 2003, and died after investigations started two months ago. The blood used was found to be Song's.

Song sold his blood at Dehui Blood Centre between January 2003 and June 2004.

Selling blood is illegal in China, as supplies are collected only from voluntary donors. However, some hospitals are believed to buy blood to ensure sufficient supply.

The Blood Donation Law enforced in July 2004 required Dehui Blood Centre to stop collecting from blood sellers. Statistics indicate that the Dehui centre was required to collect 550,000 millilitres per year from donors before the enforcement of the law. But it only had the ability to get 450,000 millilitres and made up the shortfall through illegal blood sales.

Seven people including the directors and some officials of the Dehui municipal health bureau and the hospital have been removed from their positions or placed on probation within the Party.

The police also detained Ding Zuofu, director of Dehui Blood Centre and his 10 colleagues for further investigation, according to the Health Bureau of Changchun.

"We had the facilities to test the blood before donation in 1998, and every donor had to go through two tests before donation, and Song was no exception," said Zhao Xiumei, deputy director of Dehui Blood Centre.

Strangely enough, Song tested HIV negative.

Zhao said 5 per cent of HIV carriers fail to test positive at a certain stage of infection.

But experts say that HIV is guaranteed to be shown in tests after six months of infection. They say that the Dehui centre had management problems and were negligent of their duties.

It is not yet clear how Song became infected with HIV. He himself claimed that there might be a possibility that he was infected when he was selling blood.

"A friend of mine working in the hospital told me that they test donors' blood before donation. However, for people who had donated before or donated many times, they always omit the procedure and take it as given that the blood is safe," a local resident of Dehui, surnamed Sun, told China Daily.

Up to now, 452 people have been confirmed to be HIV virus carriers in Jilin Province, among whom more than 60 per cent of them were infected through blood transmission. Seventy-five have died, according to the provincial health bureau.

Ma Ping, deputy director of Changchun Health Bureau in Jilin Province, said that the 19 people who are suffering from infection are being given special treatment.

(China Daily 12/22/2005 page2)

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