3,000 blood donors a year have Hepatitis B

Aug 03, 2017, 19:42 IST | Rupsa Chakraborty

Maharashtra State Aids Control Society study finds that in the last three years, 14,000 donated units tested positive for Hepatitis B, C

Blood packs

Here's why you should always check if the blood being used in a transfusion has been screened for communicable diseases. In the last three years, 14,000 units of donated blood tested positive for Hepatitis B and C.

As per data provided by the Maharashtra State Aids Control Society (MSACS), about 3 lakh units of blood are donated in the city every year, but one per cent of them test positive for Hepatitis B and 0.5 per cent for Hepatitis C (see table for year-wise details).
But before you press the panic button, know that every unit has to be mandatorily screened and infected blood discarded.

Dr Srikala Acharya, additional project director of MSACS, said donors often do not know whether they are carrying the Hepatitis B/C virus. "As per the rules, several tests are run on donated blood before every transfusion. The data shows that we have been successful is controlling the spread of blood-borne infections."

Both Hepatitis B and C are contagious infections and can be passed on through direct contact with blood. This may occur through unsafe injection practices and health care, and the transfusion of unscreened blood and blood products. Hepatitis B and C attack the liver, and cause acute and chronic diseases.

Dr Rajesh Dikshit, epidemiologist from Tata Memorial Hospital, concurred that often, donors have no clue that they are carriers of the virus. "This is where the role of blood banks becomes more crucial. The virus remains in the body in a dormant state and most of the patients get to know about it only when the condition becomes chronic, like when the liver gets affected. Since people usually do not go for hepatitis screening without an illness, it becomes impossible for a donor to know if s/he is infected."

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