ERODE: The ‘window period’ of five-six weeks that the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) needs to ‘grow’ after infection and be detected in a person’s blood is still a major problem in accepting blood for transfusions, according to Joint Director (Public Health) Dr Ramamani.
It was unfortunate that a pregnant woman received HIV-infected blood through transfusion in Sathur. After that, all efforts are being made in all government hospitals to ensure that blood is not infected before transfusion. Already, care was taken in the transfusion of blood, she told Express here on Thursday. HIV infection can be detected easily only after the ‘window period’ passes during screening.
When blood is accepted, the donor is asked whether he/she has suffered from jaundice, hepatitis, etc, is HIV positive and also about his/her sexual life. Blood would not be accepted if doctors and blood-bank officials suspect anything.
But if someone was infected just a few days prior to the donation, and nothing is suspected, the blood is likely to be collected and kept for up to 30 days in the cold storage unit. When blood becomes necessary, it is screened by conducting several tests, including ELISA. It could also be separated into components for use.
The HIV infection, however, can be found only after six-seven weeks. If the interregnum or window period - from the time of donation till the screening - is less than this, the usual tests will not show the blood as HIV-infected. This can be avoided by using the polymer chain-process test, but it very costly; even in developed countries, it has not become common.
Thus, there is the risk of HIV-infected blood, tested during the ‘window period’ but ‘found’ uninfected, being used for transfusion. The virus would attain ‘full growth’ in six-seven weeks and the recipient will be seen as HIV positive when tested after this period.
Now, the government gives anti-retro viral drugs free of cost to HIV-positive people. But the aim is to protect people fully. Everyone, especially donors, should cooperate with the government so that only safe, uninfected blood is donated, said Dr Ramanani.