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Chinese AIDS patient beaten while pleading for government help

AFP | August 24 2006

A Chinese woman who contracted HIV during hospital surgery said she was attacked while she and other patients pleaded with the government for compensation.

Wang Qiuyun, 38, said a security guard at the central Chinese city of Hebi in Henan province threw her against some stairs and kicked her in the abdomenon Wednesday after she and three other female patients insisted on seeing the mayor.

The guard picked up a broom and threaten to beat her but was stopped by the other sufferers and guards.

"We are still here in the lobby of the government office building. No officials have come down to speak with us," said Wang Wednesday evening.

She had been at the office since 9 am.

Wang said she was infected in the largest hospital in the city of 1.4 million people during surgery in the 1990s, but she was unclear whether it was the surgery to remove a stomach tumor or to give birth.

A local court recently rejected Wang's lawsuit against the hospital.

"The courts should accept my case," Wang said. "I also want to know what the government policy is towards people like us. They've never told me what kind of assistance I'm supposed to get, what our rights are."

An employee who answered the phone at the government office denied anyone was beaten.

Like Wang, many people in China have been infected with HIV while receiving blood transfusions in hospitals before China's blood supply was cleaned up at the turn of the century.

Most victims only find out later as they develop symptoms but only a handful of patients have won lawsuits against hospitals.

Although Health Minister Gao Qiang has said the courts should take up the cases, local governments are afraid it can open a can of worms and lead to many people finding out that they were also infected and demanding compensation.

Other than offering free drugs to the infected, China provides little assistance.

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