China's Blood Supply Not Being Monitored Properly For HIV

Armen Hareyan's picture

China's blood supply still is not being monitored properly for HIV despite the Ministry of Health's efforts to monitor the country's blood collection centers, according to a report released Thursday by New York-based Asia Catalyst, Reuters reports (Blanchard, Reuters, 9/6).

Bloodselling practices during the 1990s in China's central Henan provincecontributed to the spread of HIV, which according to some advocates,affected about one million people. The situation in Henan led officialsto pledge reform, and the health ministry has said that it maintainsstringent supervision of blood collection centers in the country.According to the ministry of health, it closed about 150 illegalcollection and supply agencies nationwide in 2004, the last year forwhich official figures are available. The health ministry in July also orderedall blood collection centers in the country to install video cameras toensure that medical staff members are following regulations (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 8/16). Despite the health ministry's efforts, China's State Food and Drug Administration in June discovered fake plasma being used in at least 18 hospitals in northeastern China, Reuters reports (Reuters, 9/6).


According to an Asia Catalyst release,the report examines how the U.S., Canada, France and Japan handledsimilar outbreaks of HIV transmitted through blood transfusions. EvanAnderson, research consultant for Asia Catalyst and a report co-author,said, "Most countries eventually did three things that solved theproblem." He added, "They held investigations, established nationalcompensation funds for victims and centralized control of the bloodsupply" (Asia Catalyst release, 9/6).

Sara Davis, director ofAsia Catalyst and co-author of the report, said, "The demand for bloodand blood products is growing in China, and supply is short," adding,"This creates an economic incentive for hospitals to rely on illegal,untested blood donations, and that fuels the spread" of HIV (Reuters,9/6). Davis said that the system established by the Chinese governmentto ensure the safety of its national blood supply is inadequate. Sheadded, "China is not alone. ... Most developed countries have dealtwith similar AIDS blood scandals, and they should step forward to offerassistance to China" (Asia Catalyst release, 9/6).

According tothe report, the Chinese government should establish a compensation fundfor people who acquired HIV through blood transfusions and order courtsto accept all lawsuits from such individuals. "Hemophiliacs and otherpatients infected with HIV through blood and blood products provided byhospitals have suffered physical and emotional pain and sufferingcaused directly by those hospitals and clinics," the reports says,adding, "They are entitled to reparations for these violations of theirrights" (Reuters, 9/6).

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