AIDS spread aided by fellow humansIt was truly horrifying to read, splashed across the front page of a national daily, news about the import of contaminated blood from South Africa. And contaminated with what? HIV! Can you imagine, if you were to meet with an serious accident, are rushed to a government hospital, need blood transfusion in an emergency surgical operation necessitated by your condition, and end up receiving HIV in the blood. A deadly scenario isn’t it? You bet it is. However, this is not a figment of anybody’s imagination. This could happen to you, or me for that matter. And that is truly frightening, to say the least.
The WHO has warned that India is among those countries that already have a sizeable number of HIV positive cases. Our own media has reported off and on that a couple of our metros have been sitting on an AIDS time bomb for quite some time now. Moreover, not much has been done by either the Government or NGOs yet, to create an awareness about who belong to the so called “High risk” groups, and what could be done effectively to prevent contracting the deadly disease. While ignorance and indifference still reigns supreme, confirmed, full blown AIDS patients face social ostracism from a society that is half suspicious and half scared by the killer disease.
Add to all this, the nefarious designs of an unscrupulous few bent upon making a quick buck putting at risk vast multitudes of hapless, unsuspecting people, and it is a perfect recipe for future disaster. When samples of blood exported by South Africa were deliberately passed off as “Safe” for transfusion despite being contaminated with HIV, imagine the havoc it could have caused had it not been detected in the nick of time. Some of the samples imported are reported to have been marked, “Animal plasma” to begin with, back in South Africa. These samples were later relabeled as “Human plasma” after the stocks arrived in India! Such distressing and disturbing news does not in any way bolster the confidence in the health care systems prevalent not just in India but elsewhere as well.
Mind you, these are times when even high profile hospitals like the Apollo Hospital in the capital has been in the news for erroneous diagnoses, brought into sharp focus by the death of P R Kumaramangalam. One of the most promising politicians of our times, Ranga died eventually due to acute myeloid leukemia which was in the terminal stage as diagnosed by AIIMS. If such a fate could befall a minister of the Government of India, what about a poor citizen of our country who is “Treated” in Government hospitals? Has human life lost all its sanctity? Has it become expendable?
It is time the Government woke up to the fact before things got out of hand. Blood which is one of the chief carriers of HIV must not only be thoroughly screened but those who work at centers that do so need thorough screening themselves. If unscrupulous elements infiltrate these organizations, then episodes such as the one referred to would become routine. And AIDS could well nigh become a worldwide epidemic. In any case, as of now, our best bet is prevention since a permanent cure for AIDS remains as elusive as ever.