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Govt mulls new blood screening system

By Sanjoy Ray
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GUWAHATI, Sept 16 � The State government is considering introduction of Nucleic Acid Testing (NAT), a new layer of blood safety screening of donors, which would lower risk of Transfusion Transmission Infections in the recipients by a large extent, especially in case of HIV.

Experts working in the field said that introduction of NAT would mean narrowing down of the window period for the HIV from 21 days to at least 10 days.

The proposal for setting up the NAT centre has been sent by the Gauhati Medical College and Hospital (GMCH) to the State Government for its nod. The project will approximately cost Rs 6 crore.

If materialized, Assam will be one of the few States in the country to have introduced the centralized mechanism.

�The existing screening system is not equipped to detect the virus till 21 days, which is termed as the window period. But with the introduction of NAT, the window period will be narrowed down to 7 to 10 days,� a senior doctor told The Assam Tribune.

�Not just HIV, it also detects Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C virus very fast. It would be an additional layer of blood safety,� he said.

The State has a history of blood transfusion from infected patients during the window period. The recent Mangaldoi incident, in which five persons got infected through transfusion of blood taken from a government blood bank, is one of the glaring examples.

State government sources, when asked, said that there are a number of issues that are to be taken into consideration before introducing NAT.

�At this moment, the thrust is on ensuring its cost-effectiveness. Currently, it costs Rs 1,000 per screening. The emphasis is on making it cost-effective,� sources said.

The plan is to operate NAT centrally from the GMCH where it can screen nearly 100 blood samples at a time.

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Govt mulls new blood screening system

GUWAHATI, Sept 16 � The State government is considering introduction of Nucleic Acid Testing (NAT), a new layer of blood safety screening of donors, which would lower risk of Transfusion Transmission Infections in the recipients by a large extent, especially in case of HIV.

Experts working in the field said that introduction of NAT would mean narrowing down of the window period for the HIV from 21 days to at least 10 days.

The proposal for setting up the NAT centre has been sent by the Gauhati Medical College and Hospital (GMCH) to the State Government for its nod. The project will approximately cost Rs 6 crore.

If materialized, Assam will be one of the few States in the country to have introduced the centralized mechanism.

�The existing screening system is not equipped to detect the virus till 21 days, which is termed as the window period. But with the introduction of NAT, the window period will be narrowed down to 7 to 10 days,� a senior doctor told The Assam Tribune.

�Not just HIV, it also detects Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C virus very fast. It would be an additional layer of blood safety,� he said.

The State has a history of blood transfusion from infected patients during the window period. The recent Mangaldoi incident, in which five persons got infected through transfusion of blood taken from a government blood bank, is one of the glaring examples.

State government sources, when asked, said that there are a number of issues that are to be taken into consideration before introducing NAT.

�At this moment, the thrust is on ensuring its cost-effectiveness. Currently, it costs Rs 1,000 per screening. The emphasis is on making it cost-effective,� sources said.

The plan is to operate NAT centrally from the GMCH where it can screen nearly 100 blood samples at a time.