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Jan '07

HIV found in more blood bags: Clinic

An increasing amount of blood donated at the Jayapura Red Cross’ transfusion unit in Papua is being found to be contaminated with HIV, an official said Wednesday.

The unit’s head, Reginal Hutabarat, said 116 bags of plasma were contaminated last year, an increase from 44 bags in 2005. All of the contaminated blood had been destroyed, he said.

The unit received 6,066 bags of the plasma in 2005 and 6,905 last year.

Unit staffer Kusnanto said most of the contaminated plasma came from those giving blood for relatives or friends, since there were not many voluntary donors.

All donated blood is screened for four diseases: hepatitis B and C, syphilis and HIV, he said. All contaminated blood is destroyed.

Despite the finding, only three people are recorded to have contracted HIV from blood transfusions in the province.

From a population of around 2.5 million people, there are 2,770 people known to be living with HIV/AIDS in Papua, the highest percentage in the country.

“We impose strict safety procedures here, which means that (when we reject) donors whose blood indicates the presence of HIV, they often get upset and accuse us of selling the blood. But we have no right to tell them their blood indicates HIV contamination, so we simply tell them they have a different blood type from the one we need,” Kusnanto said.

Health statistics as of September last year show 8,261 people in the country are recorded as HIV-positive, with 4,186 of developing AIDS-related illnesses. Local and international organizations, however, estimate the actual number of people living with HIV/AIDS is between 90,000 and 250,000 nationwide.

By 2010, it is estimated that from one to five million Indonesians could be infected with HIV.

Health workers say efforts to halt the spread of the virus are being hampered by the discrimination people living with HIV continue to suffer in the community.

On Monday, a large group of HIV-positive people were among 43 delegates turned away from a hotel in Manokwari, where they planned to attend a conference on the virus.

Papua provincial administration spokesman Dewi Wulandari said the people from towns in Papua and West Irian Jaya were planning to attend a week-long networking forum.

The delegates were not turned away until they had arrived in the town. Hotel management refused to host the event because they worried other guests would be scared away.

“The head of Papua’s AIDS Prevention Commission, P.S. Ukung, and activist Nafsiah Mboi tried to explain to management that a person cannot get HIV simply by touch, but the hotel insisted they leave,” Dewi said.

The forum was moved to another hotel and will run until Friday.

Papua Health Office chief Tigor Silaban
said he was disappointed the hotel had acted inhumanely.

“We really regret the incident … such attitudes should not exist in this day and age, but they are still there,” he said.

Sumber : (Nethy Dharma Somba) The Jakarta Post, Jayapura, ASAP , FKMCPR

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