China Reveals Hemophiliac
AIDS Victims - Tainted Blood


SHANGHAI (Reuters) - At least 54 hemophiliacs in Shanghai have contracted AIDS via tainted blood, the China Daily said Tuesday, a day after millions around the globe marked World Aids Day.
It also comes a day after Premier Wen Jiabao was shown on television shaking hands with AIDS patients, an unprecedented public show of support by a Chinese leader.
Tainted blood has been a major scourge in China's countryside, where villagers sell their blood to supplement meager incomes, but often end up contracting HIV as a result. HIV is the virus that cases AIDS.
Activists and experts continue to point out local cover-ups of blood bank scandals plaguing entire villages, as well as newspaper stories that play down the plight of people.
About 6.5 percent of Shanghai's 886 HIV carriers contracted the virus through blood transfusions, the nation's premier English daily cited figures from the city's Center for Disease Prevention and Control as saying.
The newspaper did not offer any time frame. Government and health officials declined comment.
"That's a state secret," one health official said.
The United Nations estimates AIDS will have killed about three million people this year, a global pandemic set to worsen as it sweeps across Africa, Eastern Europe and Asia.
China has been lambasted for its slow response to a disease that has since infected more than 800,000 around the country.
Health agencies say China could have 10 million AIDS victims by 2010 if it fails to take the scourge seriously.
U.S. teenage hemophiliac Ryan White became a national hero in the 1980s after contracting AIDS via a transfusion. He was banned from grade school by students' parents but won re-admission after a legal battle.
Shanghai now provides free medical treatment for infected hemophiliacs, and has been paying them a monthly subsidy of 1,000 yuan ($120) since 2002, the China Daily reported. ($1 = 8.277 yuan)
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