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HIV Carrier Donated Blood 15 Times, Infected 21

An HIV carrier donated blood more than a dozen times in a span of one-and-half years and infected at least 21 people in northeast China's Jilin Province of whom three have died.

Even though the man, surnamed Song, donated blood to the central blood bank in the city of Dehui 15 times from January 2003 to June 2004, his HIV infection was not detected and the blood was given to 25 people.

The scandal came to light only when a woman, surnamed Wang, tested positive for HIV in September, the local health authority told a press conference over the weekend.

Wang, a resident of Dehui, had been suffering from fever throughout the year but doctors could not pinpoint the reason.

She was infected by contaminated blood given during surgery at Dehui municipal hospital in March 2003, and died after investigations started two months ago.

The blood was provided by Song, 41, who was finally confirmed as an HIV carrier on October 20, 2005, said the health bureau of the city of Changchun, which is in charge of Dehui.

The grievous mistake by health and blood-bank officials was that Song was not tested even once when he was selling blood.

Before the local health authority started investigating the incident in October, six blood recipients died, and could not be conclusively established that they were infected.

Experts are certain that 18 people were infected by Song's blood of whom three have died, including Wang.

In addition, two women who had sexual relations with Song as well as the husband of one of them have tested positive for HIV.

The director and some officials of the Dehui municipal health bureau have been removed from their positions.

The director of the blood station and other 10 people have been detained for further investigation, Xinhua News Agency reported.

Gao Qiang, minister of health, estimated the number of people who contracted HIV during blood transfusions or sales at 70,000 during the 1990s, when blood banks were not properly supervised.

Selling blood is illegal in China it has to be collected only from voluntary donors but some hospitals are believed to buy to ensure sufficient supply.

(China Daily December 5, 2005)

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