A blood bank in Mandsaur district wrongly tested a man as HIV-positive a couple of weeks ago, nearly driving him and his wife to suicide.
Ajay Rataria and his wife, Kavita, spent many sleepless nights between July 16 and 20, after the Jain Pathology Laboratory and Blood Bank reportedly told him that he was HIV-positive. “When I said this to my wife, we began wondering if there was any reason left to live. We began contemplating suicide,” the 38-year-old manager of a mill in Daloda-Mandsaur told HT.
Friend advises to get further tests done from Ahmedabad hospital
However, a piece of friendly advice from a friend prevented their story from meeting a particularly sordid end. “He asked me to get further tests done from Shalby Hospital in Ahmedabad. We were so scared of the social stigma surrounding the disease that I registered myself as Ajay Sharma. So, imagine our relief when we received the test findings on July 21 – informing us that neither of us was afflicted by the virus!” Rataria said.
Written complaint submitted to collector
Armed with test reports from the Ahmedabad hospital, he submitted a written complaint to Mandsaur district collector Swatantra Kumar Singh on July 21. The collector referred the complaint to district chief medical and health officer (CMHO) Dr AK Mehta for a thorough probe.
“We’ve forwarded the complaint to the drug inspector in Shajapur district,” said Dr Mehta.
Rataria had gone to the private institution on July 16, so he could exchange blood for donation to an ailing relative. “The lab first conducted the requisite rapid test,” he said.
“But five minutes later, lab head Dr Suresh Jain called me to his chamber and said I cannot donate blood because I was HIV-positive. I said no blood bank had told me in the past that I was suffering from the ailment, but the lab staffers stuck to their stand. Finally, I had to spend Rs 4,000 on buying blood for my relative,” he added.
The blood bank staffers further asked Rataria to get three more tests done either in hospitals at Indore or Ahmedabad. “The lab head asked me to undergo more HIV/AIDS confirmation tests – including HIV Elisa, HIV NAT and HIV Weston – either at Indore’s Choithram Hospital or Ahmedabad’s Apollo Hospital,” he said.
While Dr Mehta agreed that the rapid test requires confirmation through a series of serological tests, he had issues with the procedure followed by the blood bank staffers. “It’s difficult to understand why they asked Rataria to get the HIV confirmatory tests done from two hospitals in Indore and Ahmedabad when the Mandsaur district hospital – right here – houses a standalone integrated counselling and testing centre. This needs to be investigated,” he said.
Moreover, no person should be informed that he/she is HIV-positive without provisions being made for counselling, Dr Mehta added. Rataria has demanded stern action against the private establishment, alleging that its staffers were raising the bogey of AIDS to force people into buying blood instead of getting it exchanged. Staffers of the private pathology lab and blood bank couldn’t be contacted for comment.