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HIV miracle or mistake?

A FARMER from northern China's Gansu Province diagnosed with HIV six years ago was found to be clear of the disease, which has raised questions on whether it was a miracle or a mistake.

Li Jianping, from a small village in Qingshui County of Tianshui City, and his neighbors were ordered by local health authorities to have blood tests in September 2003 together because blood the group had given was found to be contaminated with HIV.

Zhang Jianguo, director of the Qingshui Center for Disease Control and Prevention, visited Li at his home four days later to tell him he had HIV.

Li, the first to build a brick house at Wazhai Village of Tianshui's Qingshui County, lost almost everything in the next four years.

Li had to work on building sites for less than US$100 a month. His two sons dropped out of school to also earn their living.

His neighbors kept their distance after learning of his illness. They found out after seeing local CDC staff frequently visited Li?s home.

At the end of 2006, a doctor at Qingshui CDC asked Li whether he had a neighbor with the same name and age.

Li asked for more information and the doctor murmured, "It could be a mistake."

Li realized he might be healthy and had never had the disease.

Li went to Tianshui CDC on October 13, 2007, for a blood test and was told by the director Liu Baolu that no HIV had been detected.

Li then called the provincial CDC of Gansu about his situation.

Both Liu and Zhang visited Li at his home a week after announcing he didn?t have HIV.

Li complained he had had 16 blood tests since October 2003 but never received any test report.

Zhang told Li they had already learned no virus had been detected in his blood since 2006.

However, both Zhang and Liu said Li's first blood test in 2003 was HIV positive.

Yan Xiang, vice president of Clinic Hospital of Lanzhou University at Gansu's capital Lanzhou City, said it was a miracle if Li had recovered.

"Only one case from Britain has been reported to be healed from HIV and no domestic case has been learned yet," Yan said.

Shen Jie, director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention's social diseases and AIDS control and prevention department, thought it could be a mistake as Li's blood sample taken by grass-roots health departments could have been contaminated or mislaid.


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