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Tuesday, 11 September, 2001, 08:56 GMT 09:56 UK
China court orders Aids compensation
Aids patients rest in hospital
Thousands of Aids sufferers might now claim compensation
By BBC Beijing correspondent Rupert Wingfield Hayes

A Chinese court has awarded the family of a woman who died of Aids more than $1m in compensation after she was infected by a tainted blood transfusion.

The court decided the hospital that carried out the transfusion was liable because it had not screened its blood for HIV, the virus that can lead to Aids.

China's HIV timebomb
50,000 - Chinese estimates
600,000 - WHO estimates
10 million - WHO projection for 2010
The case has potential repercussions for many thousands of other Chinese Aids sufferers who have become infected from contaminated blood or medical equipment.

The court in eastern China's Jiangsu province ordered the hospital that carried out the blood transfusion to pay the compensation to the husband and young daughter of the woman who died.

The woman had been given a transfusion at the hospital three years ago during a difficult childbirth. She died late last year.

Her husband and baby daughter have also tested positive for HIV.

This is thought to be the first time a Chinese court has awarded such a large amount to a victim of HIV-tainted blood.

A flood of similar cases could now follow.

Blood trade

HIV contamination is believed to be widespread in China's poorly funded and unhygienic blood collection system.

Wenlou villager
Thousands have been infected with HIV through selling blood
More than half a million people in the central Chinese province of Henan are thought to have become infected by selling their blood to commercial blood dealers during the 1990s.

Victims have described how their blood was pooled into a single container while the plasma was drawn off and the remaining mixture of blood from several different people then pumped back into their veins.

This case may have struck a blow for the victims of such criminal negligence, but it's still highly doubtful whether the victims will actually see the money.

Rather than pay a lump sum, the court ordered the hospital to pay annual instalments of around $20,000, but even that might be too much.

Hospitals in China are chronically under-funded and in the past declared themselves bankrupt rather than pay compensation.

See also:

23 Aug 01 | Asia-Pacific
China comes clean on Aids
09 Aug 01 | Europe
Aids scandals around the world
31 May 01 | Asia-Pacific
China bars Aids activist visiting US
30 May 01 | Asia-Pacific
Bad blood spreads Aids in China
08 Apr 99 | Medical notes
Blood: The risks of infection
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