3 infected with HIV virus after blood transfusions

Friday, December 28, 2007
The China Post news staff

The Department of Health (DOH) confirmed yesterday that blood donated by an AIDS patient in Kaohsiung has infected three patients following blood transfusions. The Consumers Foundation (CF) urged the government to take more effective measures to screen blood donations to contain the spread of the disease.

Concerning what they called the first AIDS case caused by blood transfusions this year, DOH officials said one of the patients already died after surgery in early December, while the other two are still under medical care.

The DOH will help the two victims apply for compensation in accordance with the existing regulations by which each victim is entitled to a compensation of NT$2 million in relief funds.

Before the latest case, 16 people in Taiwan contracted the HIV virus through blood transfusions in the past 23 years, ended last month.

The total number of HIV/AIDS patients in Taiwan has reached 14,711.
The agency will also take legal action against the blood donor, whose name is withheld by the authorities.

A person infected with HIV/AIDS who knowingly donates blood is subject to a jail term between five and 12 years, according to new rules ratified in July.

Deputy Director-General Shih Wen-yi of the Center for Disease Control (CDC) under the DOH said the man in the case has made six blood donations, including one bag of 250 c.c., in July and November this year.

Records show the same person also gave blood in March 2006.
Shih claimed the man had not contracted HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) that spreads AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) at that time.

The HIV virus was detected last month in a blood screening process, and the blood was already destroyed, he said.

Shih also urged people not to donate blood if they have engaged in dangerous sexual activities, have multiple sexual partners, are homosexual or bisexual, have contracted venereal diseases, or suspect themselves of being infected with the HIV virus.

Cheng Jen-hong, chairman of the CF held a press conference to urge the government to adopt the new NAT blood screening method that can detect the HIV virus 11 days after a person is infected

He said the DOH should heed the suggestion of medical experts to replace the current EIA method that usually takes 22 days to detect the virus.

Hsieh Tien-jen, vice chairman of the foundation, said the DOH should give victims of infected blood transfusions a state compensation rather than a mere NT$2 million in relief funds.

He said the DOH has been lax in performing its duties to safeguard the people's health, as media reports alleged the 30-year-old gay man has actually given blood donations for a period of nine years starting in 1998.

Hsueh Jui-yuan, chief of the DOH's Bureau of Medical Affairs, said the period of time needed to detect the HIV virus in donated blood has now already been shortened to 11 days from 22 days, as in the past, to reduce the risk of contamination that may be caused by blood transfusions.

He said the bureau just consigned the Taiwan Blood Foundation in November to start testing a new screening process with a fund of NT$40 million to process 100,000 samples.

The new screening method can be expended pending the results of the testing program, he added.

Read Article