- NEW YORK (Reuters Health)
- Two patients in Florida have contracted HIV after receiving blood products
from an HIV-infected individual who donated blood in the narrow window
of time before tests can pick up signs of the virus.
- "We deeply empathize with the patients and their
families and share the raw emotions invoked by this tragic event,"
said Don Doddridge, chief executive officer of Florida Blood Services in
a prepared statement.
- If an individual is exposed to HIV, it takes from 7 to
10 days before available tests can pick up signs of the virus.
- "A subsequent donation from the donor was found
to be HIV positive and we immediately began a lookback process on all previous
donations and the patients who received these blood components," said
Dr. German Leparc, chief medical officer of Florida Blood Services.
- Florida Blood Services is one of about 75 different organizations
in the US that belongs to America's Blood Centers, a network of nonprofit
agencies that collect about half of the blood in the country. The Red Cross
collects the other half.
- The chances of becoming infected with donated blood is
still extremely low, said Dr. Celso Bianco, executive vice president of
America's Blood Centers in Washington, DC.
- "Transfusion is still one of the safest procedures
in medicine and the risk for HIV is about 1 in 2 million, but it's not
zero," he told Reuters Health.
- A highly sensitive testing method called nucleic acid
testing (NAT) has narrowed the gap between the point at which an individual
contracts HIV and their testing positive for the virus.
- Since the introduction of this test, there has only been
one other case in which an HIV-infected donor passed the virus onto a recipient.
That occurred in San Antonio, Texas in February 2002 and one patient was
infected, Bianco said.
- "This is a tragedy," Bianco told Reuters Health.
"The window of transmission has been reduced substantially since the
introduction of nucleic acid testing, or NAT, but we still have 10 days
that possibly someone gets infected."
- He added, "We transfuse about 20 million components
of blood a year in the country so the number of cases is small but each
one is terrible."
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