Thu, Dec 29, 2016 - Page 3 News List

Centers for Disease Control, foundation deny HIV-tainted transfusion cover-up

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

A man donates blood in Yilan County on Monday.

Photo: Lin Ching-lun, Taipei Times

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the Taiwan Blood Services Foundation issued separate statements yesterday after a magazine report accused medical staff of a cover-up in the case of a man given a blood transfusion from an HIV-infected donor.

The Chinese-language Mirror Media magazine reported yesterday that A-ming (阿銘), a 53-year-old father of six whose wife passed away and who was planning to remarry next year, was informed by a local health department in August that a batch of blood he received in a transfusion five years ago was from an HIV-positive donor.

The report said the hospital that performed the transfusion pretended it did not know anything and accused the Taiwan Blood Services Foundation of shirking its responsibility by saying HIV was not detected in a sample.

It quoted an unnamed CDC official as saying that the case was certainly caused by human error, because if the hospital and the blood center had done screening procedures correctly, tainted blood would not have been in the blood bank.

The CDC issued a statement saying that it “was not interviewed regarding the issue and there has been no confirmed HIV infections as the result of a blood transfusion this year.”

CDC Deputy Director-General Philip Lo (羅一鈞) said that nationwide since 1984 only 24 people have become infected with HIV after a blood transfusion, with the blood coming from one of 18 donors.

The last confirmed case was in 2013, with the recipient receiving HIV-positive blood donated in 2012, Lo said.

The foundation’s statement said that “the blood transfusion recipient was tested to be HIV-negative and not infected with AIDS.”

The foundation said that with its assistance, the CDC has a standard procedure where it routinely tracks whether a person confirmed to have HIV has donated blood and if so, it tracks recipients of blood from the donor.

Lo said that previous blood-screening methods were hampered by a three-month window in which a person could be infected, but tests would not show them as HIV-positive, but the foundation in 2013 adopted nucleic acid amplification technology (NAT), cutting the window to 11 days.

The risk of HIV-positive blood entering the system undetected is about one in 2 million, Lo said, adding that there have been no confirmed HIV infections from transfusions since the NAT method was adopted.

The foundation said there is no risk of HIV infection from donating blood, so people should keep donating.

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