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Russia does not have laboratories that would enable it to minimize the risk of contracting HIV from donated blood
Russia does not have laboratories that would enable it to minimize the risk of contracting HIV from donated blood, a medical expert said Thursday. Yevgeny Zhirbut, the director of the Blood Center of the Federal Medical and Biological Agency, made the statement in the wake of a donor blood scandal in central Russia, where a woman was diagnosed with HIV several months after receiving a blood transfusion and 130 people were tested for HIV after receiving albumin injections. "Every year, 4 million blood donations are examined in 600 labs for immunodeficiency analysis, but we have no labs for genetic diagnosis," Zhirbut told a news conference. He said Americans donated 3.5 times more blood every year but that their donations were examined at 50 immune-ferment-analysis labs and 20 genetic diagnostic labs. He said the human factor remained a central issue in the transfusion of blood and its components. "When people are involved, there is always the risk that they may confuse labels or drop the blood on the wrong spot plate," the expert said. He added that another risk factor was the initial period, when the virus is already circulating in the blood but cannot be identified yet. However, such cases have only amounted to one in a million in the world. The only way to be safe is to conduct genetic diagnostics, Zhirbut said. He called for the political will that could help open laboratories for molecular and genetic analysis in the leading research centers. "Let us concentrate our efforts on blood services on a consistent basis and not only when catastrophes occur," Zhirbut said.
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