Image credit: @goulao.
By Ekaterina Vasileva.
Last week the Ministry of Health ordered all Chinese hospitals to provide medical care (including counseling and testing) for HIV/AIDS patients. In the past, HIV-positive individuals had to hide or forge their health status in order to receive medical treatment for non-HIV illnesses.
The case of Xiaofeng (pseudonym) brought the issue into the public eye. Xiaofeng, a 25-year old patient from Tianjin, was denied lung cancer treatment after the Tianjin Medical University Cancer Institute discovered his HIV-positive status. He was approved for an operation at another Tianjin hospital after he changed his medical records to state he was HIV-negative. Xiaofeng later sued the original hospital who declined to treat him.
Prior to the Xiaofeng case, hospitals that refused to treat HIV-positive patients could do so without fear of penalty. However, according to the Ministry of Health’s statement, hospitals or health professionals who refuse to provide treatment to HIV/AIDS patients will now face “harsh punishments”.
This decision has been endorsed by Vice Premier Li Keqiang, who expressed his support for the right of all HIV/AIDS individuals to proper medical treatment in China, as well as the medical professionals who treat HIV-positive patients.
World AIDS Day takes place on December 1st.