Around 2000 Indians were infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) after getting botched blood transfusions, in the last 18 months, according to data shared by the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) on Tuesday.
The NACO, in a reply to an RTI query sent by activist Chetan Kothari, said that 2,234 people from across India contracted the deadly virus, between October 2014 to March 2016, because of unsafe blood transfusion processes followed by hospitals in India.
About 16% (361 cases) of those affected hailed from Uttar Pradesh, making the state’s hospitals most unsafe among Indian states, followed by Guiarat with 13% (292 cases) and Maharastra 12% (276 cases).
Many union territories like Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Dadra & Nagar Haveli and few north-eastern states drew a blank. But according to Kothari it may be because their governments are not maintaining proper records.
Tripura, a state where HIV prevalence doubled between 2007-2015 while it dropped nation wide, also drew a blank in the list.
“Remote places like Andaman, Meghalaya, Sikkim have not recorded even one case of this nature because they may lack adequate means to test blood during or after donation. Also, they may not even be aware of the cases of AIDS due to lack of proper labs,” Kothari told HT.
“A basic testing kit costs around Rs 1,200. But many hospitals do not follow proper procedure,” said Kothari.
However, NACO’s assistant director general, Dr Shobini Rajan, in a live chat with The Hindu , said, there is “no shortage of testing kits for all the blood banks supported through the NACO programme.”
“States and blood banks also have standing instructions to procure through their resources to mitigate stock outs so as to ensure mandatory blood testing,” Rajan said during the live chat.
Also, these figures need not worry those who donate blood, as there is no chance of them contracting the virus. “We can donate without fear, as that does not impose any risk whatsoever of transfusion transmitted infections. Needles are attached to the bag and cannot be reused,” Rajan said during the chat.
(with inputs from Gulshan Kumar Wankar)