Four persons tested positive for HIV after receiving blood at a state-run hospital in Assam’s Darrang district. They had received blood from the hospital’s blood bank over the past few months, triggering protests on World Blood Donor Day on Friday.
While the health department has sent an expert team to the civil hospital in district headquarters Mangaldoi, 68 km northeast of Guwahati, the government has ordered a probe into the possible negligence by the medicos. The probe panel headed by additional chief secretary PP Varma has a 30-day deadline to submit its report.
The matter came to light after one of the four victims was admitted to the hospital following prolonged illness. Tests conducted on him revealed he had contracted the HIV virus.
The man said the blood he had received was from a professional donor. Through him, the hospital authorities got through to three other persons who received blood from the same source.
“These people have tested HIV-positive. We have alerted all other recipients from the hospital blood bank to undergo tests,” said MN Barman, joint director, health, of Darrang district. Deputy commissioner Sohrab Ali feared the figure might go up but said no has complained against the hospital authorities.
The donor said he was not aware of his HIV status. “My blood was tested every time I donated blood. No one told me I was carrying the virus,” he told a local TV channel in Mangaldoi.
The hospital authorities were not available for comment. But SI Ahmed, head of AIDS Prevention Society said the donor had registered at the anti-retroviral therapy centre in Guwahati in April. “His next appointment for ART is in November,” he said.
A senior doctor at the Gauhati Medical College and Hospital said HIV-positive people or those suffering from Hepatitis B and C, malaria, cancer and syphilis cannot donate blood. “It is mandatory to test every unit of blood for these diseases. Under no circumstances can contaminated blood be kept in a blood bank,” he said.
Members of various organisations including All Assam Students Union carried out demonstrations in Mangaldoi and Guwahati burning effigies and seeking punishment for those responsible for the ‘HIV terror’.