A Chinese hospital accidentally infected at least five patients with HIV

More work needed.
More work needed.
Image: Reuters/David Gray
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On Feb. 5 China’s State Council announced a five-year plan on AIDS prevention, including measures to prevent needle sharing and illegal blood transfusions. Four days later a report from Zhejiang province highlighted the need for such measures.

The local health bureau reported on Feb. 9 (link in Chinese) that a technician at the top-tier Zhejiang Provincial Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine had reused a tube that had been employed to treat an individual with HIV—and in the process had infected at least five other patients with the virus.

Authorities took the technician into custody and removed six staff members, including the hospital’s dean, from their positions. The health bureau’s report did not reveal how many other patients might have been exposed, or explain how the infected patients would be treated. It said health authorities were first alerted to the cases on Jan. 26.

Like other Chinese provinces, Zhejiang faces a rising number (pdf, p. 7) of HIV infections. Last year it reported over 4,000 new cases, a 5.7% increase over 2015, and it recorded more than 27,000 cases (link in Chinese) overall as of last October.

Since 2014 the government has been encouraging those with HIV/AIDS to turn to traditional Chinese medicine to better cope with their condition. The plan calls for the number of those doing so to double from 2015 to 2020.