Number of HIV blood donors revealed
Guangdong health officials said yesterday they had released information about the number of HIV-positive blood donors in the province to raise public awareness of the need for voluntary contributions and an uncontaminated blood supply.
The pro-Beijing Ta Kung Pao reported yesterday that about 0.1 per cent of the donated blood collected in the past two years came from carriers of the Aids virus.
A Guangzhou Blood Station official confirmed yesterday that tests showed 835 HIV carriers had given blood in the two-year period.
But he said it was possible some of the donors gave blood because they saw it as a convenient way to have it tested. He said the donors probably knew health departments followed regulations laid down by the World Health Organisation requiring blood-collection agencies to check all blood samples.
'Actually, we published the figures because we wanted to raise public awareness of health so that people will realise the importance of voluntary blood donation,' the official said.
Hong Kong doctor Lo Wing-lok said the number of HIV-infected donors was 'quite high'.
According to the Red Cross, the rates of HIV infection among blood donors in Hong Kong and the United States in 2000 were 0.012 and 0.093 per cent respectively.
'The population of Guangdong is over 100 million now. It means there are possibly 100,000 HIV carriers in the province,' Dr Lo said. 'It is very dangerous. If HIV carriers are unwilling or do not take the opportunity to be treated, it will cause a disaster in society.'
Dr Lo said one of the reasons for the high HIV rate on the mainland was that the blood-collection system was not well established.
'Poverty matters. People used to get paid [for giving blood] in the past, especially among the poor. They might have donated when they felt sick, taking the opportunity for a free check-up,' Dr Lo said.