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Guangdong hospitals refuse to treat HIV burn victim

(Global Times)

10:39, September 16, 2011

An HIV carrier from Guangdong Province, who received burns to 85 percent of her body during an agricultural accident, is fighting for her life after local hospitals refused to treat her injuries.

The case illustrates the difficulties HIV-positive patients face in receiving non-related treatment in China since general hospitals usually transfer them to infectious disease hospitals, which are not equipped to treat other conditions such as severe burns.

Wang Biwen, 30, suffered the burns in May when doing farm work with her husband, Deng Zerun.

Wang was rushed to the local Yingde People's Hospital, which later transferred Wang to Yuebei People's Hospital in Shaoguan.

After doctors tested Wang's blood and found her to be HIV-positive they sought to move her to another facility, Deng told the Global Times.

"Xiao Yong, a doctor in the Yuebei Hospital, told me at that time that my wife only had 20 days left to live. He asked me to bring her back if she could survive for a while and noted that the surgery costs would be cheaper later on," Deng said.

He took Wang back to the Yingde People's hospital, where she was also refused treatment.

Deng eventually brought his wife home where he was forced to use herbs to treat her wounds.

However, after Wang survived for 20 days, the Shaoguan hospital still refused to treat Wang, claiming the herbs had caused her condition to worsen.

These remarks could not be verified with the Yuebei People's Hospital by press time.

A desperate Deng called several larger hospitals in Guangzhou to no avail.

In late August, Deng appealed to the Yingde health bureau, which ordered the Yingde People's Hospital to temporarily accommodate Wang. But without a burns unit, the Yingde hospital was powerless to do more.

Deng's story was then published in the Yangcheng Evening News.

Liao Xinbo, a vice director of the Guangdong's Department of Health, told the newspaper Thursday that qualified hospitals have no right to reject patients without proper reasons.

"Any local hospital with a burn department should accommodate such a patient immediately. If the hospital needs support to treat HIV-carriers, they can invite doctors from designated infectious disease hospitals to help. Patients can report any unreasonable refusal to our department," Liao said.

"I am still hoping that the hospitals will change their minds and save my wife," Deng said.

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