Li Keqiang Calls for Equal Treatment for AIDS Patients
When a 25-year-old lung cancer patient was refused treatment at a hospital in Tianjin because he is also HIV-positive, he forged his medical records in order to get treated at another hospital. He is now suing the original hospital, which violated the law requiring hospitals to treat HIV patients for any ailment. The patient and his supporters have made his case public to raise awareness of widespread discrimination against people who are HIV-positive or have AIDS, even within the medical establishment. From Global Times:
Xiao Feng was originally refused treatment at Tianjin Medical University Cancer Institute and Hospital in early October after they discovered his HIV-positive status, said Li.
“Although he contacted the local health bureau [in Tianjin] for help, there was no response,” Li said.
“He then came to Beijing to ask for treatment at Ditan Hospital and was also rejected,” said Li.
“The reason we changed his status is because we think patients have a 99 percent chance of being rejected by hospitals if they know the patients are HIV carriers,” he said.
In response, Vice Premier Li Keqiang, who is expected to take over as Premier early next year, called the Ministry of Health and ordered fair treatment for all HIV and AIDS patients. From China Daily:
Hospitals designated to treat HIV/AIDS will be upgraded to protect the rights of patients and ensure better healthcare services, Minister of Health Chen Zhu pledged on Thursday.
He was speaking at a ceremony to mark the end of the China-Australia Health and HIV/AIDS Facility, a joint project, and after Vice-Premier Li Keqiang on Wednesday called for proper medical treatment for people who have HIV or AIDS.
Li contacted the ministry after learning of a recent case in which a 25-year-old HIV carrier ― identified as Xiaofeng ― was denied cancer treatment in Tianjin due to his condition, and only secured treatment at another facility after hiding his status.
“The Health Ministry will improve services at designated hospitals to better help people with HIV/AIDS beyond just treating them,” Chen told China Daily. “We’ll also improve working conditions for medical workers.”
Despite Li’s public support for AIDS patients now, in the late 1990s, as governor of Henan, he oversaw a crackdown on journalists and activists who tried to stem a HIV epidemic that spread through government-backed blood-selling clinics.
Some observers are looking to Li to bring about reforms in China, though others are skeptical of how much he can achieve within the current system.