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Punishments Warned for Hospitals Rejecting AIDS Patients

Chinese capital Beijing pledges to harshly punish medical institutions that reject patients contracted with AIDS virus, said the Municipal Health Bureau.

HIV carriers and AIDS patients who are denied medical treatment can lodge complaints by dialing five hotlines. Some of which opened Wednesday at the local bureau and its county-level health inspection divisions and diseases control centers, respectively.

Patients can dial two hotlines, one in the day and the other at night, to reach the health inspections divisions 24 hours a day.

Experts believe the efforts will help ensure AIDS patients' access to medical services, a huge improvement from the once frequent rejection of them by hospitals.

The HIV/AIDS epidemic in Beijing is on rise, with the number of HIV carriers and AIDS patients standing at 2,829 by the end of last year, said the health bureau's director Jin Dapeng last month.

China issued earlier last month its first official guidelines on how to prevent and control the spread of HIV, promising to protect HIV carriers and AIDS patients from discrimination and to ensure their marriage, employment, medical care and education rights.

(Xinhua News Agency March 9, 2006)

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