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Last Updated: Tuesday, 5 December 2006, 12:30 GMT
China Aids patients win damages
A couple in front of an Aids awareness poster in Beijing
It is estimated that 650,000 Chinese have Aids
A group of Chinese people with Aids are to receive more than 20m yuan ($2.5m; 1.3m) in compensation in a landmark case, state media report.

The 19 people contracted HIV after receiving blood transfusions from illegal blood-sellers operating within a hospital in north-east China in 2004.

They developed Aids and are said to be living in poverty. One has died.

This is China's largest single group of patients to be infected with HIV at the hospital where they were treated.

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

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

The family of the patient who has already died will receive compensation from the hospital.

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 in June for illegally collecting and supplying blood, the China Daily said.

In recent years, many victims have sued hospitals for compensation after being infected by HIV while receiving treatment.

Total infections, including unreported cases, in China are estimated to have reached 650,000.


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