As many as 23 children with thalassemia have tested HIV positive at a hospital in Junagadh, Gujarat, where they received blood transfusion.
Angry parents have blamed the government health authorities for the deadly
HIV infection, allegedly caused during blood transfusions at the civil hospital in Junagadh, 350 km west of Ahmedabad.
But state health minister Jaynarayan Vyas ruled out any mistake by the health officials at the hospital.
"At Junagadh civil hospital, 23 children suffering from thalassemia have tested positive for HIV. More than half of these children were taking blood transfusion at multiple sources," he said.
Vyas added, "Pre-blood transfusion test conducted on them shows they were already infected with HIV prior to admission in the government hospital."
He said the state health department had launched in inquiry to find out how the children contracted the infection.
Dr GT Dayalu, medical superintendent at Junagadh civil hospital, said: "We have been strictly following the guidelines of the NACO (National AIDS Control Organisation) in blood transfusion."
He added samples of blood collected from donors and the hospital's blood bank have been sent for testing. This would help ascertain whether the blood was already contaminated and will also help medical authorities take proper care and decision, Dayalu added.
Other doctors at the hospital said relatives of people with thalassemia bring blood from blood banks and the transfusion is done at the civil hospital.
Since January, more than 100 children with thalassemia below the age of 10 have been getting transfusions at the government hospital in Junagadh.
The thalassemic children come from various towns of the district to avail the facility of blood transfusion offered twice a week free of cost.
According to the World Health Organisation, thalassemia is a blood related genetic disorder, which involves the absence of or errors in genes responsible for production of haemoglobin, a protein present in the red blood cells.
Each red blood cell can contain between 240 and 300 million molecules of haemoglobin. The severity of the disease depends on the mutations involved in the genes, and their interplay.