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Court confirms rights of hepatitis B carrier
(China Daily)
Updated: 2004-04-02 21:51

A district court gave hepatitis B carriers a victory on Friday while saying the local government was wrong to discriminate against Zhang Xianzhu.

It is the first case in China involving the rights of a hepatitis B virus (HBV) carrier.

Zhang, an HBV carrier, sued the Personnel Affairs Bureau of Wuhu, in East China's Anhui Province, in October 2003 after being rejected for a public servant's position.

In backing his claim, the People's Court of Xinwu District of Wuhu said the report from a local hospital, entrusted by Wuhu government to conduct health examinations, which says Zhang was not qualified to be a civil servant, violates provincial standards.

HBV carriers can be separated into several kinds of groups based on the specific virus and its potential spread. Zhang does not belong to the seven groups mentioned in Anhui's provincial health standards not qualified for public service.

Therefore, the court said, the Wuhu government could not deny Zhang's application based on the report but should have obeyed provincial standards.

The decision to stop Zhang's application for the public service lacked merit, the court concluded.

It asked the authorities to withdraw the decision.

While Zhang said he is satisfied with the verdict, it is unlikely he will start work any time soon.

The Wuhu government finished hiring in 2003 and the position Zhang had applied for has been filled.

The court backed Zhang's discrimination claim but did not support a second lawsuit to order the government to find him a job.

At the same time, the government plans to appeal the decision.

Zhang sees the verdict as a victory, but experts were unsure whether the verdict was a victory for China's millions of HBV carriers who are fighting for equal employment opportunities.

Estimates say there are 100 million HBV carriers in China.

While there are no national laws or regulations against HBV carriers joining the public service, many local governments and departments of the central government have issued their own regulations to bar them.

Still, the number of appeals is growing and some local governments are beginning to change their views. Some, including Hunan Province, have allowed its departments to employ HBV carriers whose infectious ability is so weak that common daily contacts, such as shaking hands and having dinner together, would pose no risk.

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