As many as 2,234 people have been infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) through unsafe blood transfusions across the country in the past 17 months, the National AIDS Control Organization said in an RTI reply. Uttar Pradesh alone recorded 361 cases, which is the maximum occurrence in any one state, reported The Hindu. It was followed by Gujarat with 292 cases, Maharashtra with 272 such cases and Delhi with 264.
“The government has been slackening on raising AIDS awareness due to budget cuts. 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,” said activist Chetan Kothari, who had filed the RTI query.
Deputy Director General of NACO Naresh Goyal said the organisation, which is responsible for ensuring availability of safe blood, is working towards zero transmission through transfusion. “These numbers must be looked at in the context of the scale of our HIV programme. For example, 20 years ago, nearly 8 to 10% of total HIV infections were coming through transfusions. Currently, that figure is below 1%. We have conquered this route of infection. It is now legally mandatory for every blood bank to screen the units before giving it to a patient,” he contended.
Around 20.9 lakh people were living with the virus in 2011, according to NACO's annual report from 2015.