A Chinese government policy that sets monthly quotas for each city and for many large companies regarding the amount of blood that must be donated by residents or employees is fueling HIV infections in the country and could be linked to as many as 20% of China's HIV cases, The Wall Street Journal reports. The quotas force many companies to turn to "blood heads," brokers who pay donors for blood donations. But the brokers often use dirty needles to collect the blood and even pool nonessential blood components and inject them back into the donors so that they will be able to more quickly make subsequent donations.
Chinese health experts believe that one fifth of all HIV-positive individuals in China contracted the disease by selling their blood. Although the Chinese government issued regulations in 1988 that bans the illegal collection of blood, blood selling remains a "way of life" in poor regions of the country, the Journal reports. China is expected to have between 10 million and 15 million HIV cases by the end of the decade.