As many as 200 voluntary blood donors tested HIV positive between January and July this year at state-run blood banks and laboratories. The donors were among 50,460 people whose blood samples were screened by the Central Blood Bank at Manicktala during the period.
Significantly,the HIV positive donors are unaware of their status with the blood banks and laboratories having not informed them about their status yet,said sources.
West Bengal has around 65 state-run blood banks.
According to the rules of operation,the blood banks collect samples at voluntary blood donation camps and bring them to their laboratories for running mandatory tests to confirm whether the samples are clear of viruses like Hepatitis B and C and HIV. Only upon completion of such tests the blood samples are cleared for administering to patients in need. The blood banks summarily discard samples that test positive for any of these viruses.
Dr Asit Biswas,spokesperson,health department,said he was aware of the situation,but we cannot tell the HIV positive patients that they are carrying the virus for fear of them being ostracised and that they will be treated with apathy.
However,the blood safety wing of the West Bengal AIDS Prevention and Control Society sought to contradict Biswass views in the matter.
It said that considering the sheer gravity of the situation,blood banks ought to inform the donors whose blood samples have tested HIV positive. In states like Maharashtra,Kerala and Tamil Nadu,the donors are informed that they are carrying the virus,and that they needed treatment.
Meanwhile,principal secretary (health) Sanjoy Mitra said he was unaware of the matter and that he will look into the matter.