India is suffering from a problematic HIV infection rate from blood transfusions, totaling 2,234 cases over the past 17 months, according to National AIDS Control Organization figures.
The Hindu reported
Tuesday that the totals came from a Right to Information query by activist Chetan Kothari. The publication stated that HIV infections are happening because of contaminated blood involved in the transfusions.
"The government has been slackening on raising AIDS awareness due to budget cuts," Kothari said. "Cases like these keep happening over and over again and no action is taken against erring hospitals and blood banks. This is an extremely serious issue, and the government needs to address it urgently."
Hospitals in the state of Uttar Predesh suffered the most HIV transfusions with 361 cases, according to The Hindu, followed by Gujarat with 292 cases, Maharashtra with 276 cases, and Delhi with 264.
The Maharashtra State AIDS Control Society told the Times of India
that most clients at its integrated counseling and testing centers gave a history of blood transfusion even if they had engaged in unsafe sex or injecting drugs.
National AIDS Control Organization officials said, though, that the numbers come from voluntary disclosures and is not a true indicator of blood transfusion records.
"The fact is that at least 90 percent of HIV transmissions still occur through sexual intercourse," said Dr. Shobhna Tehra, joint director of the society.
Kothari told the Times that the government needs to show more urgency in using more advanced tests to detect HIV in blood.
"They are risking the life of poor patients," Kothari said. "The worst hit are thalassemia patients who have to take regular transfusions."
Naresh Goyal, deputy director general of NACO, told The Hindu that India's blood supply is much safer than in the past and the numbers must be kept in perspective.
"These are unfortunate cases and we are working towards the goal of zero transmission," Goyal said. "Having said that, these numbers must be looked in the context of the scale of our HIV program. For example, 20 years ago, nearly 8-10 percent of total HIV infections were coming to transfusions. Currently, that figure is below 1 percent."
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