Similarly, a 31-year-old civil servant in the central city of Chongqing said his doctor recommended a liver biopsy after he reported severe lower back pain, but declined to carry it out once he tested positive for the virus. The man — who would only give his nickname, Xiaobai, out of concern he might lose his job — said it was a year later when he finally was able to get a biopsy in Shanghai, and it showed he had lost half his liver function.
"I can't help but wonder if I could have found out a year ago and saved more of my liver," he said. "I worry about what I would do if one day I needed dialysis. What if I need a liver transplant?"
The China Alliance of People Living with HIV/AIDS, a Beijing-based network, said that a survey last year found dozens of patients being turned away by facilities throughout the country — in some cases even leading to deaths.
"I feel that if a doctor refuses to treat a patient who is HIV positive, it is a crime akin to murder," said the group's coordinator, Meng Lin, who recounted being denied a CT scan by a Beijing doctor in September, after he told him he had AIDS.
Dr. Wu Zunyou, who leads the government's HIV/AIDS center, said he believes attitudes will change. He said Chinese health workers report about 700 cases of accidental contact with the every year and none have resulted in infections. He welcomed the public debate the Tianjin case triggered.
"The debate causes medical workers to think about the issue and health facilities to improve their management, so there should be fewer chances for such things to happen in the future," Wu said.
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