Sunday, February 26, 2012

Indian Teen Mother Infected With HIV Through Blood Transfusion

This is a very sad story - we're all aware of the early HIV incidences that occurred in the 70s and 80s due to infected blood transfusions. Today, however, blood banks are required to screen all donations for a number of viruses, including HIV. Or at least, that is supposed to be the case - not so for Sheikh Hasina in Andhra Pradesh, India. Sheikh was tested for HIV and other communicable diseases during her pregnancy and immediately prior to C-section, and both turned up negative for HIV.

Following the birth, she was administered a blood transfusion (3 units) due to significant blood loss. Specifically, the blood was bought from a nearby Red Cross Society blood bank. Roughly 3 months later, Sheikh experienced a fever and vomiting; she was tested again and this time found to be HIV positive. At this time, both her husband and infant were similarly tested and found to be HIV negative.

Sheikh's complaints to local authorities led to a series of media reports and subsequent closure of the blood bank, accompanied by a formal investigation. Sadly, no follow-up care was provided for the mother, Sheikh. According to this article, she is terrified of breastfeeding her infant (viral titers have been found in breast milk, to varying degrees). Hopefully following this secondary wave of media response, people will reach out and provide her with some support.

This is obviously just such a backward occurrence, but will hopefully act as a cautionary tale to all blood banks, and those in developing nations in particular (where contamination can be more likely). The transmission of HIV is high enough that we really don't need it to be parenteral, as well...

- Elena Higuchi

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