At least five infected with HIV after dirty needles used at Chinese hospital

Case in Zhejiang province has echoes of huge Aids scandal in 1990s when thousands were infected with HIV after selling blood at insanitary clinics

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 09 February, 2017, 12:25pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 09 February, 2017, 11:13pm

A member of the medical staff at a Chinese hospital violated procedure by reusing hypodermic needles on patients, infecting at least five people with HIV as a result, a provincial health authority said in a statement on its website.

The announcement by the health and family planning commission in Zhejiang province created shock among internet users in China.

The statement said a serious medical incident had occurred at the Zhejiang Provincial Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine in Hangzhou and that the cases were first reported to the health authority on January 26.

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The staff member failed to follow procedure by disposing of needles after one use and is now under criminal investigation, according to the statement.

The virus was spread from a patient who is already HIV positive through the shared use of needles, according to the health authority.

Five officials at the hospital have been sacked, including its president and executive vice-president, the statement added.

Phone calls to the commission seeking comment were not answered.

The infections have renewed fears among the Chinese public that lax medical treatment and oversight have helped contribute to the spread of the virus.

China’s central Henan province was at the centre of a huge scandal in the 1990s after thousands were infected with HIV after selling their blood at unsanitary clinics.

The authorities tried to cover up the scandal, but the cases attracted international publicity thanks to whistle-blowers such as the doctor and Aids activist Gao Yaojie.

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China’s government is stepping up its efforts to contain the spread of HIV.

The State Council issued a five-year plan earlier this week aimed at curbing infections.

About 575,000 people are infected with the virus on the mainland, according to the country’s disease control authority, but the real number could be much higher.

China’s decade-old Aids prevention and treatment regulations are meant to stop hospitals turning away people with HIV, but activists say patients continue to face repeated rejection at medical facilities across the country.