A Shanghai attorney has urged the Shanghai municipal government to do more to settle cases involving hemophilia patients who contracted AIDS via tainted blood products.
In an interview with Shanghai Daily yesterday, Yang Shaogang, who also acts as a counselor for the city government, said 55 local hemophilia patients have been infected with AIDS. Their families suspect they caught the disease after using HIV-contaminated Factor VIII, a blood clot medicine for hemophiliacs, produced by the Shanghai Biological Product Research Institute.
Currently, they have reached an agreement with the local government and the institute, which reimburses their medical expenses, pays 1,000 yuan (US$120.48) living subsidy per month and has given 100,000 yuan in compensation per person.
"But, five out-of-town patients have filed lawsuits against the institute. The local court has accepted the cases, but no hearing date has been set," said Yang, who is representing all the five defendants.
Blood factor is used in the treatment of hemophilia, a disease characterized by failure of the blood to clot. In the early 1980s, when acquired immune deficiency syndrome was first detected, there was no screening test for the HIV virus to prevent it from contaminating blood products. Companies later developed a heat treatment for plasma products to kill off the HIV virus.
German pharmaceutical giant Bayer paid around US$300 million to a compensation fund for hemophiliacs in the US who had been infected with HIV from tainted blood products, according to AFP.
As a legal expert on AIDS-related issues, Yang also urged the government to strengthen crackdown on drug trafficking while being lenient with drug addicts by providing them disposable syringes; distributing condoms in nightclubs and KTVs; and promoting education among people.
"With World AIDS Day falling on December 1, naturally there is lot of talk about the disease. But society hasn't built a positive environment for AIDS patients and there is no national AIDS Prevention and Treatment Law in China," he said.
Many countries, like Australia, the US and Thailand, have AIDS law, while China has only regulations and some regional rules.
"We applied to the National People's Congress two years ago to work on an AIDS law to control the disease," said Yang.
After visiting Thailand and Australia, he has written letters to both the central and local governments, asking them to follow those countries' legislation and take effective measures to control the spread of AIDS.
(Shanghai Daily November 27, 2003)