The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Counselling for blood donors

New Delhi, Dec. 18: A core committee of the National Blood Transfusion Council has been set up to implement a crucial provision in the National Blood Policy for counselling an HIV/AIDS donor.

The council held its first meeting today to work out the modalities of the action plan for implementing the blood policy announced this April.

The action plan was announced on December 1, World AIDS Day. The core committee will also decide the strategy to accredit blood banks — a provision of the action plan.

But its most important provision, recommending counselling for HIV positive donors, appears to have already run into trouble.

The council’s governing body said that since the provision marked a departure from existing practice, the action plan should suggest a “modus operandi”.

“Since some prior preparation is necessary before operationalisation, NBTC should finalise some pilot initiatives in this respect,” said National Aids Control Organisation (Naco).

At present, if a donor is found to be infected with HIV/AIDS, the blood is simply thrown away. There is no provision, however, to inform the donor of the status of his blood.

According to the action plan, Naco will provide linkages between blood banks and voluntary counselling and testing centres (VCTCs) to counsel donors before and after donation.

If the donor is HIV positive, a voluntary centre will counsel him. Informing him, however, is not mandatory. It depends on whether he or she would like to know the status of the blood. “This is a major departure from existing practice wherein the HIV status of the person was never revealed,” the plan says.

At today’s meeting of the transfusion council’s general body, Colonel Dhot, head of the Transfusion Centre, Delhi Cantonement, and Lt Col Velu Nair, head of the department of haematology, Army Hospital, said the army was already informing a donor of his blood status.

“The HIV status is conveyed to the individual as well as to his commanding officer,” they said.

The proposal for counselling donors depends on developing linkages between a blood bank and a voluntary counselling centre.

“Backward and forward linkages between a blood bank and VCTCs (counselling centres) will be detailed for pilot initiatives,” the council said. The pilot projects would be initiated in select hospitals and medical colleges with proper infrastructure.

Authorities at the blood bank of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), however, have no knowledge of this action plan. They were neither consulted before the action plan was prepared nor were they informed of the modalities of the plan.

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