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India – More than 2,000 people have been infected with HIV through blood transfusions in the past 17 months #WTFnews

Uttar Pradesh recorded the maximum number of such cases, followed by Gujarat, Maharashtra and Delh

As many as 2,234 people across India, in the past 17-months, have been infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) while getting blood transfusions in hospitals.

In a reply to an RTI by activist Chetan Kothari, the National Aids Control Organisation (NACO) stated that the maximum number of such cases – 361 – were reported from Uttar Pradesh.

Gujarat, with 292 cases, Maharashtra with 276 and Delhi with 264 cases are the other leading states where patients have contracted the virus due to contaminated transfusions.

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

Chetan Kothari

NACO has been primarily responsible for ensuring provision of safe blood. Laws mandate it to screen donors/donated blood for transmissible infections of HIV, malaria, syphilis, HBV and hepatitis C.

In its latest annual report, till September 2014, NACO’s accounted its total blood collection to be around 30 lakh units. Voluntary Blood Donation formed nearly 84 percent of the donated blood, which seem to be the source of the problem, says Naresh Goyal, Deputy Director General, NACO.

“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 to transfusions. Currently, that figure is below 1 percent.

“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,” Mr. Goyal said.

According to NACO’s 2015 annual report, the total number of people living with HIV/AIDS (PLHIVs) in India was estimated at around 20.9 lakh in 2011. Nearly 86 percent of these patients are in the 15-49 age-group.

Children below the age of 15 years accounted for 7 percent or 1.45 lakh of all infections in 2011 while 39 percent (8.16 lakh) were women.

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