Nucleic Acid Testing to be launched by month-end - The New Indian Express

Nucleic Acid Testing to be launched by month-end

Published: 04th October 2012 09:27 AM

Last Updated: 04th October 2012 09:27 AM

The Nucleic Acid Testing (NAT) that will reduce the window period of detecting anti-bodies in blood samples and ensuring safe blood will be launched at the IMA Blood Bank this month-end.

“Though we planned to launch it on October 7 during the valedictory of the Blood Donation Week, we had to postpone it due to technical hitches,” said Dr Sunil Mathai, president, IMA, Kochi Blood Bank. 

The test which is mandatory in developed European and Asian countries is the first of its of kind in the state. This will help reduce spread of fatal diseases like AIDS during blood transfusion. The NAT enables the identification of diseases like the HIV within a period of 72 hours after the infection.

The current test procedures identify the deadly viruses only after a period of three to four weeks after the infection sets in.

In India, the Gujarat government has made the test mandatory at all its blood banks. Mumbai and Bangalore have also taken steps to make the NAT mandatory before the blood transfusion procedure.

However, the high cost of testing is a serious concern to the authorities.

“The spread of fatal diseases through transfusion is a serious concern.

Components of the blood such as red blood cells, platelets, plasma are in demand and an infected blood sample can affect up to five persons. The main concern when it comes to the NAT testing is its high cost. Unless the procedure is conducted on a large scale, it will raise the cost of blood from the IMA blood bank. Currently, we are holding discussions with the private hospitals across the state so that we can perform the NAT in the blood banks of these hospitals as well,” said Dr Narayanankutty,  chairman of the IMA branch here.

The IMA hopes to be able to carry out the tests through an increase of `250 per unit of blood sold. Apart form detecting HIV, the test can also detect Hepatitis B and C infection at its early stages. The IMA sources said that an awareness campaign would be launched soon.

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