New Delhi: More than 2,000 people contracted HIV across the country over a 17-month period after receiving blood transfusions, data from the national AIDS body shows.
In response to a Right to Information request filed by Mumbai-based activist Chetan Kothari, the National AIDS Control Organisation or NACO said 2,234 people had been infected between October 2014 and March 2016.
The reply, which was shared with AFP, was sent to Mr Kothari last month after he asked for data for that particular time period.
“I wanted to know what the government is doing to ensure people have access to safe blood,” Mr Kothari told AFP. “The data shows blood is not being screened for HIV despite so much awareness.”
Access to safe blood is limited, especially in rural areas, because of a lack of proper screening devices, says NACO’s website.
Uttar Pradesh, the country’s most populous state, topped the list with 361 patients found infected with HIV due to contaminated blood in hospitals, followed by Gujarat and Maharashtra with 292 and 276 respectively. A total of 264 cases were recorded in New Delhi.
The government estimates that of the 1.25 billion population, around 2.5 million people are living with HIV/AIDS.
A NACO official said the data collected was “not scientific” as it was based on subjective responses from patients and reflected less than one per cent of total HIV-positive cases.
In a posting on its website, NACO — which comes under the health ministry — said the government was in the process of improving blood safety screenings and introducing technology to ensure zero HIV transmission.
Under the law, hospitals must screen donors and their donated blood for most infections including HIV, Hepatitis B and C and malaria.