May 23, 2011
A new report by the UN's International Labor Organization finds that HIV/AIDS patients in China continue to be denied medical treatment in mainstream hospitals. ILO and China's National Center for STD and AIDS Prevention Control said interviews with 103 people and 23 health care workers found widespread discrimination against HIV-positive patients.
At the press conference unveiling the report, one man recalled how he was denied treatment for back problems in hospitals in Tianjin and Beijing due to his HIV status. He was told that if he were treated, it would place other patients at risk. "I've visited many other hospitals and encountered similar denials and excuses such as a lack of equipment," said the man, who added that he was forced to leave his job at a steel company after his boss learned he had HIV.
Another man, who contracted HIV through a blood transfusion, said workers at one hospital insisted on discharging him quickly after finding out he had the virus. "I talked to them later ... and their worry is that in rural hospitals, when an HIV-positive person receives procedures, very few people would visit the hospital," he said. "They are worried about the impact on economic gains."
People with HIV/AIDS are less likely to seek treatment as a result of persistent discrimination by health care workers, experts say. UN estimates show China had some 740,000 people living with the disease in 2009.
A key reason for HIV/AIDS discrimination by health care workers is China's policy of treating those infected with the virus only in designated hospitals, said Zhang Ke, deputy director of the infectious-disease department at You An Hospital in Beijing. "We should eliminate these designated hospitals," Zhang said.