June 02, 2016
1 min read

HIV infection reported in blood transfusion recipients in India

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Between October 2014 and March 2016, 2,234 patients in India reported contracting HIV through blood transfusions, according to health officials in the country.

The National AIDS Control Organization (NACO) said the cases were self-reported at HIV counseling and testing centers and are not further corroborated by scientific evidence. In India, blood banks are required to test all collected blood for HIV, hepatitis C virus, hepatitis B virus, syphilis and malaria, and donors are screened by doctors, the organization said.

However, NACO notes, “Despite the best testing facilities, there still exists a window period during which an infection can’t be detected by any tests, including [nucleic acid test]. Thus may account for transmission in limited cases, which can be circumvented by proper selection of healthy blood donors and encouraging repeat voluntary blood donation.”

The organization said blood transfusions account for less than 1% of HIV infections in the country, and data from the counseling and testing centers do not show an increasing trend in HIV transmission through blood.

In response to a Right to Information request by an activist, the Indian government released the numbers of transfusion-related HIV cases broken down by state and territory.

The state of Uttar Pradesh in northern India had 361 reported cases of HIV infection via blood and blood products, more than any other area. The Indian capital of Delhi saw the fourth-most cases with 264. – by Gerard Gallagher