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HIV discrimination under fire

By Shan Juan and Wang Qingyun  (China Daily)

13:04, November 22, 2012

China's top AIDS specialist has urged tougher punishments for hospitals caught denying treatment to HIV/AIDS patients.

"HIV discrimination at hospitals might cost lives and is groundless. So far, no medics have contracted the virus after performing medical treatment, including operations for people with HIV/AIDS," said Wu Zunyou, director of the National Center for AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Diseases Control and Prevention, which is under the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Wu made the comments to China Daily on Wednesday in response to a recent medical scandal involving HIV/AIDS discrimination at medical facilities.

A 25-year-old man, Xiaofeng (not his real name), was forced to hide his HIV status to receive lung cancer surgery after being rejected by two hospitals, The Beijing News reported on Wednesday.

China issued regulations on HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment in 2006. The regulations stipulate that if an HIV/AIDS patient has other illnesses, hospitals cannot refuse treating an illness on grounds that the patient is HIV-positive.

"However, the rule was not fully implemented, given that hospitals might cite other reasons to refuse treating them," Wu said, urging hospitals to practice self-discipline, and health authorities to punish violators.

On Nov 12, a hospital in Tianjin conducted lung-cancer surgery for Xiaofeng, but found later that he faked his medical records, hiding his HIV status.

Li Hu, head of Haihezhixing, a Tianjin-based non-governmental organization that helps HIV carriers in local communities, posted a message about the incident on his micro blog on Nov 13.

"The man had no choice but to alter his medical record after the Cancer Institute and Hospital of Tianjin Medical University refused to treat him," Li said in the message. "Only in this way could he avoid the pre-surgery blood test and have the surgery done."

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