Haemophiliacs hit by tragedy to get compensation A tentative agreement on financial help for people who contracted HIV through a tainted blood-clotting agent has been reached by the Ministry of Health, the Shanghai Institute of Biological Products and a group of haemophiliacs. Haemophilia patients who contracted HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C from products made by the Shanghai institute will be given an initial package of 100,000 yuan each, according to Li Dun from the China STD and HIV/Aids Prevention Association, a non-governmental organisation. Mr Li has been acting as a mediator between the patients, the institute and the Ministry of Health. Details of the payment have yet to be finalised, but the central government, the institute and local governments will all contribute. The compromise deal helps address one of the most tragic chapters in the mainland's public health history. The state-owned institute sold 200,000 doses of the blood-clotting product Factor VIII to about 10,000 patients between 1987 and 1995. The institute is alleged to have continued marketing the agent even after the ministry ordered a halt to production and clinical use of the tainted products in July 1995. As a result, more than 140 haemophiliacs contracted HIV since 1998, and at least 20 of them are reported to have died. Under a central government directive, the Shanghai government agreed to give more than 60 local patients an initial payment of 100,000 yuan in 2001 and a monthly payment of 1,000 yuan since 2003. However, local governments in many other parts of the country have ignored the order and refused to help affected patients in their areas, while courts have also refused to hear cases filed by the patients. In a recent incident, a group of patients went on a hunger strike for two days at the Shanghai institute, demanding compensation. The small breakthrough came after the plight of the HIV-positive haemophiliacs came to the world's attention at an international Aids conference in Thailand in 2004. Ms Liu, the mother of a haemophilia patient from Heilongjiang province, said she would have rejected the offer if it had been a final payment. 'But they didn't say it was compensation, and I think I have to accept as we're in dire straits.' Ms Liu said her family had received little help from the local government and had to pay more than 20,000 yuan a year to treat her son, who was diagnosed as HIV positive in 1998. Mr Li said he did not know how much the payout would help patients financially but said the deal 'is as good as we can get at the moment'.