Delhi, Dec 1: In Past seven years, nearly 14,474 cases of HIV via blood transfusion reported in India even but the state governments and the central health ministry still clueless about the alarming situation, an RTI-led investigation by IndiaSpend shows.
An IndiaSpend investigation, through a series of Right to Information (RTI) requests, revealed that the Indian government has yet to take action into this medical crisis in which million of lives are at risk.
A 10% rise has been witnessed in the number of such cases over the last one year–from 1,424 in 2014-15 to 1,559 in 2015-16–as per the documents obtained, through the RTIs, from that National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO), the apex government body dealing with India’s HIV/AIDS control programme.
The 10% increase in 2015-16 numbers is alarming because it has reversed the near-consecutive decrease in cases in the five preceding years. NACO, however, has downplayed the rise in its report on blood banks: “Due to concerted and active efforts, the prevalence of TTIs (transfusion transmission infections) has come down significantly over the years.”
NACO’s data are based on self-reporting by people at its Integrated Counselling and Testing Centres spread all around the country. Referring to this, Sobhini Rajan, additional director general, blood safety, NACO, stated that the data are “based on responses received from people and it is (sic) not scientifically corroborated”. She also added that the “figures have come down–from around 15% in the 1990s to less than 1% now”.
This is shocking that no single such cases are reported in the developed countries. Canada, for instance, hasn’t seen a single case of blood transfusion-related HIV since 1985, and the US, since 2008.
While in India, one in every 100 HIV patients could be a victim of infected blood transfusion, the tally in the US is one in 300,000 cases, as per the data shared by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a US national health agency.
This means that the chances of an HIV patient in India having contracted the virus through a blood transfusion are 3,000 times more than in the US.
The data shared by the CDC revealed that it diagnosed 312,860 HIV cases in the US between 2008 and 2014. Only one of them, in 2008, was the result of blood transfusion.
But the government is either unaware or clueless about this data and denying its own findings.
When asked to minister of state Anupriya Patel in the Lok Sabha in August 2016, whether the “government is aware that a large number of persons across the country have been infected with HIV while getting blood transfusions”, By saying no she also denied a rise in the number of cases of HIV through blood transfusion, contrary to NACO data.