Bad Blood Transfusions in India Infect 2,234 with HIV

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According to new data released by India’s National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO), 2,234 persons became infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)—the cause of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS)—after receiving blood transfusions in India in the last 17 months. Areas with the most cases include Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra, and New Delhi.

Screening donated blood for HIV and other infectious agents is mandatory in India. However, many hospitals in the country are not equipped with testing facilities and therefore may not screen blood routinely. Some hospitals may not be able to afford to have donated blood screened.

The NACO data was made public following a Right to Information petition, which requires the Indian government to share information with citizens. Though the new numbers have raised concern about blood-transfusion safety in India’s hospitals, NACO officials note that transfusion-acquired HIV infection is responsible for less than 1 percent of all HIV infections in the country.

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