An update from yesterday's HIV/AIDS news. From The Japan News, 11/28/13:
The Japanese Red Cross Society has said it will improve the precision of HIV tests on donated blood following the revelation that blood infected with the HIV virus was transfused to two people and infected one of them with the virus after slipping through checks by the society this year.
The infection is the first since the society strengthened its checking system in 2004 after another case of HIV infection through blood transfusion in 2003.
The society currently tests samples of donated blood from groups of 20 people, but the society said it will improve the accuracy of the checks by next summer and test the sample of each donor’s blood individually.
According to the society, transfusion of the infected blood occurred in February and October, to one person each time. A man in his 60s who received the blood in October during surgery for a chronic disease of the digestive system became infected with HIV. Whether the other person has been infected with the virus will be examined later, the society said.
The donor, a Japanese man in his 40s, donated blood five times until his HIV infection became apparent in November. His donation in November was not used for transfusion because the society’s test detected antibodies to the HIV virus in his blood. However, his February donation slipped through the test and was transfused to two people because the amount of the virus in that donation was very small.
In the early stages of an HIV infection, there is a period when it is difficult to detect the virus in the blood because the amount is very small. This is likely what happened in this case.
In 1999, the society introduced the nucleic acid amplification test (NAT) that detects the genes of the HIV virus with a high level of accuracy by amplifying the genes. In 2003, however, infected blood slipped through these tests and caused an HIV infection. To increase the level of precision, the society in 2004 started checking samples of donated blood from groups of 20 people, compared with groups of 50 as it had done previously. Now the society has decided to check the sample of each donor’s blood individually.
After the revelation of the infection, the donor told the society that he had sexual contact with another man about two weeks before donating the blood. But he did not disclose this on the checklist he had to complete before the donation.
The society believes he likely made the blood donation because he wanted to have an HIV check.
Perfect defense difficult
Although the Japanese Red Cross Society says it will review the checking system of donated blood in the wake of an HIV infection caused by blood donated by an infected person, it is technically difficult to perfectly prevent tainted blood from slipping through tests.
This is because of the period during the early stages of an HIV infection when the virus is undetectable. This is called the window period.
When someone is infected with HIV through sexual contact, the virus multiplies and emerges in the blood within a month. The NAT can detect the virus if there is a certain amount of it in the blood. But the current NAT can only detect the virus 13 days after the virus has started emerging in the blood.
Therefore, even after the current testing system started in 2004, it has been pointed out that infected blood donated during the 40 days or so of the window period after potentially risky sexual contact could slip through the test undetected.
From next summer, the society will conduct the NAT on each donor’s blood individually. This will make the test 20 times more precise, but even with this step the window period will become only two days shorter so it cannot be called a sweeping solution.
Last year, 68 cases of HIV infection were detected from about 5.27 million samples of donated blood. The rate is about twice as high as the rate of new patients with HIV infection found in the country. The society makes it a rule in principle not to tell the result of the HIV test to donors who tested positive, but it seems there is no end to people donating blood to test for HIV infection.
55 blood donations discarded as HIV-tainted
(The Japan News, 11/29/13)
Fifty-five of the about 3.9 million blood donations made from January through September this year were found to be HIV positive, the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry’s AIDS Surveillance Committee announced Wednesday.
All 55 donations of HIV-tainted blood were discarded and not used in transfusions. However, the Japanese Red Cross Society confirmed by Monday that one donation of infected blood slipped through the HIV screening in February and was transfused to two people, consequently infecting one of them with the disease.
“Some people still seem to make blood donations to check if they are HIV positive,” a ministry official said.
The ministry urges people to take free and anonymous HIV tests at public heath centers instead.
According to the committee, there were 3.91 million blood donations by September this year. There has been a rate of 1.41 cases of HIV per every 100,000 donations, which is about twice as high as the rate of people with HIV infection newly found nationwide. There were 68 cases of HIV detected last year, representing an HIV-infection rate of 1.29 per 100,000 donations.
Tainted blood recipient HIV-free
(The Japan News, 12/1/13)
A woman in her 80s who received blood from an HIV-infected male donor has tested negative for the virus, the health ministry has said.
The blood from the donor in his 40s was transfused to two people. The other recipient, a man in his 60s, was found earlier this week to have been infected with the virus, which causes AIDS.
According to the ministry, the woman received a transfusion of a red blood cell product made from the donor’s blood in February after a bone fracture.
The woman escaped infection because 90 percent of blood plasma, where the HIV virus exists, was removed from the red blood cell product, according to officials of the Japanese Red Cross Society.