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August 21, 2009

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Miracle recovery or mistake?

A FARMER from Gansu Province diagnosed with HIV six years ago was found to be clear of the disease, raising questions on whether it was a miracle or a misdiagnosis.

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 after blood the group had donated was found to be contaminated with HIV, Western Business News reported yesterday.

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, according to the report.

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

Li had to work on building sites for less than US$100 a month and his two sons dropped out of school to earn a living, the report said. His neighbors kept their distance after learning of his illness.

At the end of 2006, a Qingshui CDC doctor 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 never had the disease.

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

The confused Li then called the Gansu Provincial CDC.

Both Liu and Zhang visited Li at his home a week after announcing he didn't have HIV, the report said.

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

Zhang told Li they had learned in 2006 that the virus was not in his blood.

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

Yan Xiang, vice president of Clinic Hospital of Lanzhou University in the provincial capital Lanzhou, said it would be 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 told the newspaper.

Shen Jie, director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention's social diseases and AIDS control and prevention department, thought it was a mistake as Li's blood sample could have been contaminated or mislabeled, said the report.


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