The National AIDS Control Organization (NACO), released data, according to which 2,234 persons across India have been infected with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) while getting blood transfusions in the last 17 months alone.
Uttar Pradesh with 361 cases, tops the list of unsafe blood transfusion practices in hospitals. Gujarat, Maharashtra and New Delhi are the other leading states with 292, 276 and 264 cases respectively.
Earlier this month, a three-year-old boy in Assam was infected with the HIV virus after he received a blood transfusion at the state-run Guwahati Medical College and Hospital (GMCH).
The data was released in response to a Right to Information (RTI) query by social activist, Chetan Kothari.
According to National AIDS Control Organisation’s (NACO) 2015 annual report, the total number of people living with HIV/AIDS in India was estimated at around 20.9 lakh in 2011. Nearly 86 percent of these patients are in the 15-49 age-group.
A woman died in March this year after she was infected by the HIV virus during a blood transfusion in Kasganj. She had undergone a Cesarean section last December.
“The government has been slackening on raising AIDS awareness due to budget cuts. Cases like these keep happening over and over again and no action is taken against erring hospitals and blood banks. This is an extremely serious issue, and the government needs to address it urgently,” The Hindu quoted Kothari as saying.
A 2014 NACO report shows total blood collection for the year as being around 30 lakh units, with about 84 percent of the donated blood units having come from voluntary blood donation. According to Dr Naresh Goyal, Deputy Director General, NACO, the infected blood can be traced back to the voluntary donations.
“These are unfortunate cases and we are working towards the goal of zero transmission. Having said that, these numbers must be looked in the context of the scale of our HIV programme. For example, 20 years ago, nearly 8-10 percent of total HIV infections were coming from transfusions. Currently, that figure is below 1 percent. We have conquered this route of infection. It is now legally mandatory for every blood bank to screen the units before giving it to a patient,” Goyal said.
“In some cases, the donor may be in a window period — before his HIV viral load can be detected — when he donates the blood. In such cases, when screened, the blood sample shows a false negative,” he added.