Call to make NAT mandatory for reducing risks in blood transfusion

A two-year-old girl from Pachalloor, died after having contracted  HIV through a hospital-acquired infection about a year ago.

Published: 18th September 2017 01:17 AM  |   Last Updated: 18th September 2017 09:35 AM   |  A+A-

Express News Service

KOTTAYAM:

2006 T’Puram: A two-year-old girl from Pachalloor, died after having contracted  HIV through a hospital-acquired infection about a year ago.

2012  Kozhikode: In a possible case of transfusion-transmitted infection, an eight-year-old girl from Wayanad, a Thalassemia patient, found infected with HIV. 

2017. Thiruvananthapuram: A nine-year-old girl suffering from leukaemia has tested positive for HIV after undergoing blood transfusion.

11 years, three girls,  same story.

The victims are made to live with this debilitating and stigmatised disease for life for no fault of their own. Despite wide-scale efforts, blood transfusion remains a source of HIV infections in the country. But, in Kerala, which boasts of high indices in healthcare, transmission of HIV through blood transfusion is a matter of great concern. Earlier instances were allegedly hushed up due to the sensitive nature, though a judicial probe was ordered in the second case. Such incidents put the lives of patients at enormous risk and trauma.

The only way out to reduce the risk in blood transfusion, is stringent implementation of the screening of all donated blood in accordance with quality requirements according to the experts in the field.  
During the one year between April 2016 to March 2017, 12 cases of infections were reported by the Kochi IMA blood bank when it tested nearly 13, 500 blood samples. “ Nine of them were cases of Hepatitis B , two Hepatitis C and one was HIV. Even if it is one case, it is a major threat”, said Dr Abraham Varghese. IMA Kochi blood bank officer.

During the past 20 years, the rate of HIV infection through blood transfusion has been reduced to one percent from  10 percent.  By making the Nucleic Acid testing (NAT) mandatory in the state,  as done by 30 other countries the risk of HIV transmission can be reduced, he said. “With this, the window period of HIV could be detected in a reduced period. While the normal ELISA test will detect the infection within 30 to 40 days or six weeks, NAT can reduce this to 11 days or two weeks. However, out of 35 approved blood banks in the state, there are only three including us, have this facility,” Dr Abraham said .

According to experts, before blaming the medical community for the tragic incidents,  the society should minimise the instances of blood transfusion as there are perils associated with blood transfusion.
“There can be minuscule possibility of spread of infections, including HIV through the transfusion of blood and blood particles. Hence the society and the media should be aware of the initiatives to eliminate the risks.  First of all we have to reduce the instances of blood transfusion. It will be better to prefer known donors,”  said Dr. Sreejith N Kumar,  former president of IMA.

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