Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations
India To Inform Blood Donors of HIV-Positive Results, Offer Confirmatory Testing and Counseling
India's health ministry last week said it would begin informing blood donors if their blood is found to be HIV-positive during routine sample testing and asking them to seek confirmatory tests and counseling, BMJ reports. The new policy will replace the old method of anonymous testing, in which HIV-infected blood is "discarded without repeating the test and without informing the donor." However, physicians working in blood transfusion services said that the new policy could be "hard to implement" due to the country's "decentralized, fragmented" blood bank system. A health ministry spokesperson said that 445 voluntary counseling and testing centers have been established throughout the country, and the centers would be required to contact donors who test positive and offer confirmatory tests and counseling. However, the "links between these centers" and blood banks are not strong. Dr. Usha Baveja, deputy director of the National Institute of Communicable Disease in New Dehli, said, "This can only be implemented with an efficient counseling infrastructure established nationwide." Dr. Subash Hira, director of the Maharashtra state government's AIDS Control and Research Center in Bombay, said, "Informing blood donors who're positive is an important component of epidemic control and should have been done long ago. In most countries, HIV-positive donors are routinely contacted for counseling" (Mudur, BMJ, 12/14).
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