The Maharashtra government will launch a software to check if the blood stored in state laboratories is HIV-infected, health minister Deepak Sawant said in the assembly on Monday.
Sawant was responding to members of the opposition benches, who raised the issue of the spread of HIV through transfusion of infected blood in the state. He said while a software already existed, the government was making efforts to fine-tune it and introduce it in the state’s private labs.
Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leaders Ramesh Kadam, Sandeep Naik and Jitendra Awhad claimed that 8,983 patients were infected with HIV across the country in the last five years, while 629 were infected between April and October 2014. They claimed Maharashtra had the third-largest number of infected people in the country, and a large share of the spread of the virus was owing to transfusion of infected blood.
“We have generated a list of the HIV-infected people in the state. By feeding them in a software my department has developed, laboratories can be alerted if they receive blood donated by an infected patient. However, this can reveal the identity of the patient and may lead to the violation of the NACO norms. We will soon find a way to avoid this,” Sawant said.
Shashikant Shinde, NCP leader, said often, blood collected in donation camps is infected, and laboratories should be equipped with advanced technology to tests the blood. He said the government provide the facilities of Nuclear Acid Test (NAT), to labs in the state.
Sawant said at present, laboratories conduct the enzyme-linked immune sorbent assay (ELISA) test on the blood deposited with them. “However, the test has a window period of a few weeks, and may result in non-detection of the HIV virus in time. We have proposed six NAT laboratories under the National Health Mission and have submitted proposals to the Centre. We are waiting for a Union government grant of Rs18.12-crore,” he said.