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Plasma Markets – “The Origins of AIDS”  – Jacques Pepin

January 14th, 2012 · No Comments · China, India, Policy, Science

HIV transmission among paid plasma donors were reported in Valencia, Spain and Pune, India. In the latter city, among commercial plasma donors, HIV prevalence was 0% in November 1987 but 78% seven months later, illustrating the exponential transmission of HIV through unhygienic plasma collection practices.6–11 These outbreaks, although tragic in their own right, were dwarfed by what happened in China in the early 1990s, several years after the risk of HIV transmission via plasmapheresis was understood, and a decade after the transmission of HCV had been documented in the same Chinese centres. In rural areas, poor farmers were recruited by ‘plasma pimps’, to sell plasma to increase their meagre income. They received $6 per donation, which could be repeated twice a month in theory, more often if donors attended more than one collection centre. There were several hundred plasma collection stations set up by blood product companies. In the most-heavily affected provinces of Henan, Anhui, Shanxi, Hubei, Hebei, Shandong and Jilin, approximately 250,000 paid donors (a quarter of a million!) acquired HIV.12–14

What do all these stories have in common? Poor people looking for a quick source of income and willing to sell their blood repeatedly. Profit-driven blood collection centres where a small number of entrepreneurs try to make as much money as possible by cutting costs, re-using needles, syringes and tubings, while being unaware of or not caring about the risk of transmitting blood-borne viruses. A lucrative market for these blood products, either locally or internationally. Finally, a ‘patient zero’ who introduces the pathogen.

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