- MELBOURNE- An Australian
schoolgirl has been infected with HIV in a blood transfusion, the first
time the virus has been transmitted in Australia through a blood donation
since screening began in 1985, health officials said on Tuesday.
- The girl was infected during recent surgery at Melbourne's
Royal Children's Hospital. Her condition was diagnosed last week.
- Australian Red Cross Blood Services said the infected
blood had slipped through the control system because the donor's blood
was tested before the HIV antibodies could be detected.
- Doctors said there was a 22-day window period between
when a person contracted the virus and developed antibodies which showed
up in tests, and the donor had given blood in that window period.
- The regular female donor informed the Red Cross blood
bank last week that she was HIV positive.
- "There was no fault in any of the procedures carried
out by the blood bank or the hospital,'' said Red Cross blood services
official Dr Patrick Coghlan.
- "All the appropriate infection control measures
were observed,'' Coghlan said in a statement.
- Human immuno-deficiency virus (HIV) can cause acquired
immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS).
- Health officials on Tuesday rushed to reassure the public
that blood bank supplies were safe. The Red Cross said the risk of an infected
blood donation being made during the window period for HIV was one in 1.2
- "Almost 14 million donations have been collected
and screened by the ARCBS (Red Cross) in the past 14 years. This is the
first such case in Australia since the introduction of testing,'' said
Victoria state's chief health officer, Dr Graham Rouch.
- Authorities declined to release details about the patient.
- But the girl's father, a Melbourne doctor, spoke on radio,
saying he and his wife did not blame the female blood donor.
- "That person (blood donor) must be going through
hell at the moment. We bear that person no ill will whatsoever,'' he said.
- The Red Cross said a new test that would halve the window
period for undetectable transmission of HIV to 11 days was in the final
stages of development.