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China hospital to compensate AIDS victims

Written by: Staff
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BEIJING, Dec 5 (Reuters) A hospital in northeastern China will pay 20 million yuan to 19 people it infected with HIV through illegal, unscreened blood transfusions in 2004, state media reported today.

The hospital in Heilongjiang province infected 15 patients with HIV through transfusions of untested blood from illegal blood sellers, the China Daily said.

''Three of the 15 patients passed the virus on to their spouses, and a mother infected her 5-year-old child, bringing the total number of victims to 19,'' the paper said.

The victims developed AIDS and have been living in poverty. One of them has died of the disease.

A man and his wife who made a living selling their contaminated blood to the hospital, and whose blood was used for the 15 victims' transfusions, have also died.

Three of the hospital's staff were sentenced to jail terms ranging from two to 10 years last June for illegally collecting and supplying blood, the China Daily said.

Earlier this year, China banned sales of donated blood in a bid to contain the spread of HIV/AIDS and other diseases after a spate of reported HIV infections from sold plasma.

HIV/AIDS became a major problem for China in the 1990s when hundreds of thousands of impoverished farmers contracted the virus through botched local blood-selling schemes.

Experts from the United Nations and the Chinese health ministry estimate about 650,000 people in China are currently living with HIV/AIDS.

REUTERS SHB RAI1014

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