Bad blood

Published: Saturday 31 January 1998

according to a recent study, one in every 500 bottles of voluntarily donated blood in Mumbai, screened for the hiv virus could transmit aids . The study could pose fresh problems for the State Health Department, already struggling to comply with the Supreme Court's ban on professional blood donors. The study was conducted by the Aids Research and Control Centre (arcon), J J Hospital and the Directorate of Health Services, Mumbai.

There are three categories of blood donors. The highest risk comes from professional donors. Experts say that the second category is replacement donors who are usually considered safe because they are relatives and friends of patients. But, with professional donors masquerading as replacement donors, the risks cannot be eliminated. The safest category is considered to be that of the voluntary donors. The study says that if one in 500 bottles of blood is hiv infected, then taking the base figure of one lakh transfusion per year, 200 individuals could contract hiv this year alone from these so called "safe" donors, says Subash Hira, director of arcon.

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