Peru Launches Blood Bank Inspections After People Acquire HIV Through Transfusions At Hospitals

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Health authorities in Peru have closed and launched inspections of thecountry's 240 blood banks after four people in less than six monthsacquired HIV through blood transfusions at public hospitals, HealthMinister Carlos Vallejos announced Thursday, the AP/MSNBC.comreports (Lopez, AP/MSNCB.com, 9/13). "All the blood banks in Peru willundergo a more exhaustive evaluation than the one we have been carryingout since the start of the year, which allowed us to close 30 centers,"Vallejos said (AFP/Google.com, 9/13). He noted that the inspectioncommission will include officials from the World Health Organization (AP/MSNBC.com, 9/13).

Ahealth ministry investigation found that one woman, Judith Rivera,acquired HIV through a blood transfusion during an operation in Aprilat a state hospital in Callao, Peru. Vallejos confirmed three othercases, including one involving an 11-month-old infant, that alloccurred at the same hospital (AFP/Google.com,9/13). Rivera said she plans to take legal action to claimcompensation. "What is done is done, as they say, and a life has noprice tag," she said during a news conference (BBC News, 9/14).

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JoseFuentes-Rivera, who heads the country's blood banks, said that blooddonation centers will be established while the banks are undergoinginspections and that voluntary blood donations will be made a nationalpriority, EFE News reports. According to EFE News,less than 4% of blood donations in Peru come from volunteers. Theremainder is supplied by relatives and friends of people who need atransfusion or by people who are paid to give blood (EFE News, 9/13).

"Wedo not want people to panic -- what we have to do is be more careful"and "strengthen" care provided to patients, Vallejos said (BBC News,9/14). Vallejos said the country meets international standards forblood donation screening. However, Jose Cruz, an adviser on blood andlaboratory safety for the Pan American Health Organization,called Peru's blood banks "worrying." He added that Peru is on theorganization's list of countries that fail to perform preliminarydisease screening on all collected blood. PAHO's most recent figuresshow that almost 25% of the blood Peru's banks receive is not screenedproperly, Cruz said. About 93,000 HIV-positive people are living inPeru, according to United Nations' estimates (AP/MSNBC.com, 9/13).

PresidentAlan Garcia on Saturday announced that Rivera will receive about300,000 Peruvian soles, or $95,000, in compensation, as well as a housefrom a program supported by the government in conjunction with privatereal estate companies. "I, as head of state, ask forgiveness of"Rivera, Garcia said, adding, that he thinks the "error that occurred isextremely grave." Garcia also called on "all officials to ensure thatserious mistakes such as this that affect the poorest people do notreoccur" (EFE News Service, 9/15).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view theentire Kaiser DailyHIV/AIDS Report, search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . TheKaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service ofThe Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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