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$1.2 Million Awarded in AIDS Infection Case in China

A Chinese court has awarded $1.2 million to the family of a woman who died after contracting AIDS from a bungled hospital procedure. The woman's family is also infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

AIDS killed Chen Xiumei after she was infected by a transfusion of tainted blood. Chinese official media report that a state-run hospital in China's Hubei province collected and provided blood without state licenses and failed to test the blood Ms. Chen needed after delivering a baby.

The deadly infection was also passed to her husband and daughter, who will get the court-ordered compensation in installments.

The compensation award is large by Chinese standards and hospital officials say it will "seriously affect" their business.

Tens of thousands of people who sold blood were infected with the AIDS virus during the 1990s when blood collection agencies used unsanitary methods.

A smaller number of people, like Ms. Chen, were infected when doctors used tainted blood in medical procedures.

Government figures say there are 26,000 people infected with HIV in China, but officials admit the real number is more than 600,000 and growing at 30 percent per year.

Experts outside China say the current actual number of victims could be two or three million. China's government recently announced an increase in the amount of money set aside to educate people on AIDS prevention.

Surveys show that only a small fraction of Chinese people know enough about the disease to avoid getting it. AIDS is passed during sex with an infected person, when injection drug users share needles, or from mother to child during breast feeding.

There is no cure for AIDS and western-made drugs that prolong the lives of victims are generally too expensive for people in developing countries to afford.