HIV victim's family fights for burns aid

PHOTO: HIV victim's family fights for burns aid

GUANGZHOU - A team of top medics on Tuesday visited a badly hurt woman who was refused treatment by several hospitals because she is HIV positive.

Despite suffering severe burns to 85 per cent of her body, Wang Biwen is receiving only basic care after being rejected by specialist units due to her condition.

Following a strong public reaction to the news, a group of senior experts in the fields of burns care and HIV were dispatched to Yingde People's Hospital in Guangdong province.

"Wang will continue to be treated in Yingde after experts have seen her and had discussions with her family," said Liao Xinbo, deputy director of the provincial health bureau, who led the team.

However, Pang Kun, a lawyer at Guangdong Dena Law Firm who is acting on behalf of Wang's family, said the visit has not helped his client and claimed it was organized simply to placate public anger.

"Wang's treatment has not improved, even a little, since Liao's visit," he said.

Deng Zerun, the injured woman's husband, had asked to send his wife to a hospital with better medical facilities. However, using his micro blog, Pang quoted one of the experts as saying:"We cannot risk infecting others with HIV in order to help one patient."

The lawyer, who drove more than 300 kilometers from Shenzhen to the northern city of Yingde on Monday, said he will do what he can to help the couple and raise awareness of their plight.

He urged authorities to improve the country's medical system and pay special attention to the growing number of HIV and AIDS sufferers.

The expert team was sent after Deng sought help from the public through his micro blog, prompting concern among many netizens.

"What can I do to rescue my dear wife?" he wrote, adding that she had been refused by several hospitals over the last four months.

Wang received her burns in a fire caused by an agricultural accident on May 20, according to media reports. She was first sent to Yingde People's Hospital but had to leave because it does not have a burns unit.

Deng said he then took her to Yuebei People's Hospital in the nearby city of Shaoguan. Medics there refused to offer her treatment when she tested HIV positive in a blood test, claiming their technology and equipment were limited. Wang was discharged after just one night.

Many other hospitals also refused to accept Wang after blood screening, Deng said.

With help from Yingde's health bureau, she was admitted to Yingde People's Hospital on Sept 2.

Deng, who has hepatitis B, met Wang through the Internet in 2009 and said he knew she was HIV positive before the couple wed a year later. She said she was infected with the virus by her ex-husband.