Every year 2,000 people are transfused with HIV-infected blood

While there are stringent laws to regulate blood banks, such incidents are still happening

By Kundan Pandey
Published: Wednesday 26 December 2018
Credit: Getty Images

This month, a pregnant woman contracted HIV through the blood she was donated in a government hospital in Tamil Nadu’s Sattur area. The donor didn’t know he was suffering from HIV and he contracted the disease while donating blood in 2016.

Although an enquiry has been ordered, this is not the first and only such case. A media report that accessed National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) data says that around 2,000 people get this scary disease through blood in India despite the fact that the country has strong laws to regulate blood banks.

But the law has one clause which causes another crisis on the ground. It bans Unbanked Directed Blood Transfusion (UDBT) which leads to people dying owing to lack of blood.

According to the media report, around 20,592 people have received the infection through blood transfusion in since 2007 and Gujarat is on top when it comes to this disastrous situation. Other than Gujarat, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka are the states where such incidents are quite high in numbers.

The existing law says each unit of blood and blood products is mandatorily tested for HIV, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, syphilis and malaria. Once the unit of blood is confirmed from these infections, it is permitted to be used for transfusion.

The rule also says that every donor is physically examined before blood donation and a donor deferral form is filled to confirm that only safe donors have donated the blood. As a consequence of strict blood donations and blood banks, a big number of people die for not getting blood on time. Experts have been demanding that the government legalise UDBT.

May be not through blood, but India has been able to curb cases of HIV infections in the last few decades. In September, NACO released a report on HIV Estimations 2017, which said the country has seen more than 80 per cent decline in estimated new infections from the peak of the epidemic in 1995.

However, the disease is still affecting millions. As per the report, in 2017, India had around 21.40 lakh people living with HIV.  Around 87,000 new HIV infections and 69,000 AIDS related deaths happened in 2017, says the report.

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