HIV/AIDS patients to get care

Updated: 2010-12-16 08:38

By Shan Juan and Li Yao (China Daily)

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Beijing - The country's top health authority vowed on Wednesday to introduce policies and measures to curb discrimination against people with HIV/AIDS at medical institutions to safeguard patients' right to treatment.

People with HIV/AIDS are usually denied medical procedures at general hospitals. This is especially true for surgeries that expose doctors to blood, said Hao Yang, deputy director of the disease prevention and control bureau under the Ministry of Health.

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"I occasionally receive calls for help from patients who were denied surgeries because of discrimination by medics," he said at the Second China Red Ribbon Beijing Forum.

A 2009 survey conducted by several major institutions, including the Ministry of Health and UNAIDS, found more than 12 percent of 2,096 respondents had been denied treatment because they had HIV/AIDS.

"The Ministry of Health is working on concrete countermeasures and policies," Hao said. But he ruled out the possibility of administratively punishing hospitals if they deny medical treatments, including surgeries, to patients with HIV/AIDS.

"We still count on education and awareness to solve this problem," he said.

In addition, infectious disease hospitals would receive more support and enjoy preferential policies to enhance their capacities to treat diseases other than infections.

Beijing Ditan Hospital, which specializes in treating infectious diseases, recently added new departments, such as one for ear, nose and throat care, to treat patients other hospitals refused.

Meng Lin, who has lived with the virus for more than 20 years, said stigma and discrimination will only fuel the HIV/AIDS pandemic. There cannot be effective HIV/AIDS prevention without accessible medical care, he added.

Widespread discrimination may push some people with the virus to try to spread it in revenge on society, Meng said.

There are at least 740,000 people living with HIV/AIDS on the mainland, and the number is expected to reach 1.2 million by 2015, government figures showed.


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