Nucleic acid test can speed up HIV detection

Nucleic acid test can speed up HIV detection

The bank claims that detection was made possible only because of the application of  to adopt Nucleic Acid Testing (NAT).

“NAT is a technology that has a smaller window period of detection of infections like HIV in blood. The traditional method of applying ELIZA testing does not detect HIV cases up to two months,” said Dr Poonam Srivastava, Medical Director, Lions Blood Bank.

The traditional method takes 15 days to detect HIV infection, but NAT detects it within 6 days. Thus, the possibility of transfusion of infected blood to a patient is reduced to a great extent, says Srivastava. In the last nine months, the Lions Blood Bank had 23,982 blood donations tested by NAT. Of them, 485 tested positive for HIV.

As each unit of blood is used in treating two to three patients, such large number has the potential of infecting thousands of patients.

“Patients of Thalassemia, especially children, are worst affected by the long window period of old techniques. They have to go through blood transfusion every four weeks. Thus, the probability of them getting fatal infection is very high,” said J P Singh, District Governor, Lions Clubs International.

In India, only 23 out of 2,517 blood banks have adopted NAT. In the capital, the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Ram Manohar Lohia hospital (RML), and the Army Research and Referral hospital are the only state-run blood banks offering NAT testing for blood. They adopted the facility earlier this year.

None of the blood banks run by the Delhi government provide the service, although the government has been planning to implement the technology. “We estimate that only 4.64 per cent of the blood donated this year will be NAT-tested. It is a dismal situation,” said Dr Srivastava.

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