Chennai: Two days after reports about HIV-infected blood being transfused into a pregnant woman, a Chennai-based woman said she too has acquired the viral infection after undergoing treatment at the government-run Kilpauk Medical College and Hospital (KMCH).
The woman, who gave birth to a boy on September 15, told reporters that she tested positive after she was administered two units of blood at the hospital in April. Hospital dean Dr Vasanthamani P rejected the claim.
As per medical records, the woman visited a primary health centre in Mangadu on March 6 when doctors confirmed her pregnancy. In April, doctors referred her to KMCH for blood transfusion after they found her haemoglobin level was low. The report of a blood test she did at a private hospital on February 12 shows HIV negative.
At KMCH she was given two units of blood on April 5 and April 6, and she got discharged 10 days later. She was referred back to the hospital in August after scans showed the fetus was in “breech position” (legs down). That’s when the hospital ordered the HIV test. “Usually we assign a number along with every HIV test done. Her records did not have the number. So we repeated the test and she tested positive. We started her on medication and help her deliver a healthy baby in September,” said hospital dean Dr Vasanthamani P.
The woman said she was forced to remain silent as she feared that she would be ostracized by her family and friends. But she petitioned health minister C Vijaya Baskar, health secretary J Radhakrishnan and other senior administrators. “I did not receive any call from the government. When I read about how another pregnant woman acquired the infection, I decided to talk about my condition,” she said. “My husband has no infection. This hospital is the only possible source of infection,” she said.
Director of medical education Dr A Edwin Joe said the government ordered for an inquiry in December. “Today, the inquires revealed said the blood provided by the hospital was tested safe,” he said.
The two units of blood (1962 and 2129) administered to the woman were labelled safe after they were screened on high-end equipment. While one of the blood samples were sourced from a college student, the other was a regular voluntary blood donor. “We have a machine printed copy that says the samples were safe,” said Dr Vasanthamani. “It is difficult for us to point out the infection source now,” she said.
Health activists and NGOs say the state health department should do a more detailed inquiry to clear its name. “It is important for the hospitals to recall the donors for a HIV test. If they test negative, it is evident that the disease was not transfused through blood. What if the test was false negative because they were in their window period,” said Karunanidhi, who works for a positive network NGO.
Tamil Nadu State AIDS Control Society project director K Senthil Raj said the state has not dropped its guard on blood screening. “We have a robost screening programme. At least 60% of deliveries happen in GH. There is no need for women to panic,” he said.