More than 80 hospital patients in central China were infected with HIV through contaminated blood, according to a state media report that highlighted the continuing impact of a 1990s blood-selling scandal.
The patients at the No. 2 Hospital in Hubei province's Daye city were infected after receiving transfusions of blood sold by several local residents who were later found to have HIV, the Wuhan Morning Post said on Wednesday.
It said the blood-sellers were believed to have been infected earlier in neighbouring Henan province, the area worst affected by a huge AIDS scandal in the 1990s that saw entire villages devastated by the disease.
Many people in central China were infected after repeatedly selling their blood to collection stations that pooled it into a tub and then injected it back into them after taking the plasma.
The infections in Daye have received attention recently after one patient tested positive for HIV in September and contested the amount of compensation offered by the hospital, the report said.
Doctors at the Daye hospital were unaware that the blood was contaminated when it was given to patients, it said.
Some of the 80 victims then passed the virus on to their wives or children, which brought the total number of infected to around 100, according to the report.
Xu Chunyang, the hospital's deputy director who was quoted by the paper as the source of the report, would not confirm the figures when contacted by AFP.
"We can still not determine (how many were infected)," he said, refusing further comment.
The blood-selling scandal was initially covered up by local officials, some of whom were actively involved in it.
But the government revealed in 2001 that 30,000 to 50,000 people may have been infected with HIV through the scheme.
Experts, however, put the number at 100,000, while the true figure may be far higher.
An official from the Hubei health department told AFP in 2004 that more than 100,000 people sold blood in the province in the 1990s.
China estimates that up to 740,000 people in China live with HIV but independent experts say the true number could be far higher.