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Shanghai Tackles Tainted Blood

Contaminated blood products remain one of the major channels for spreading HIV/AIDS in Shanghai, and at least 54 local hemophilia patients have been diagnosed with the deadly virus after coming in contact with contaminated blood.

To help these victims, the local government has provided free medical treatment and a monthly subsidy of 1,000 yuan (US$121.07) since 2002.

According to the latest statistics from the city's Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, 6.5 percent of Shanghai's 886 HIV carriers and AIDS patients contracted the virus via contaminated blood products.

Hemophilia is a bleeding disorder caused by a clotting deficiency, and supplying the coagulation factor is the main treatment for the disease.

Local hemophilia patients suspected they were infected with HIV after using the eighth blood coagulation factor produced by Shanghai Bioproducts Research Centre, the nation's major blood product producer.

In China all blood products, including the coagulation factor, were treated with deactivation technology until July 1995 when the Ministry of Health forbad the technology because it failed to kill the HIV virus.

Hemophilia patient Taotao was the first reported AIDS victim in 1998 and died two years later at the age of 15.

According to Wu Zhongze, Taotao's father, a total of 11 hemophilia patients have died but they didn't receive a HIV test before death.

Since 2000, hemophilia patients and their family members have struggled to obtain compensation and better medical treatment.

"It's very hard to bring these cases to court; for a period of time local courts didn't accept such cases," said a local lawyer who requested anonymity.

After three years the Changning District Intermediate Court ruled that Wu qualified for 100,000 yuan (US$1,210) as compensation for his son's death.

(China Daily December 2, 2003)


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