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Wednesday 23rd May 2018

Peru blood bank crisis

14th September 2007

Authorities in Peru have closed dozens of blood banks after some people were found to have contracted HIV through contaminated blood transfusions at a public hospital.


In what is being described as a national emergency, the government has ordered full screening of all of the country's 240 blood banks.

Health Minister Carlos Vallejos called for calm, saying that safeguards would be stepped up and patient care improved.

The story was broken by Judith Rivera, 44, who contacted the media after she was given the run-around by bureaucrats for months after she received a transfusion of HIV-tainted blood during a routine operation.

The mother of four now plans to sue the health authorities for compensation.

After Rivera held her news conference, health officials admitted that three other patients were also known to have been infected with HIV after transfusions at the same hospital.

One of the patients is an 11 month-old child.

Up to 25% of blood in Peru's blood banks is not subjected to adequate screening, according to the US-based Pan Amercian Health Organisation.

In a related scandal, it has also emerged that 30 dialysis patients had been infected with Hepatitis C at a treatment centre.

Peruvians are currently avoiding public hospitals, amid a crisis of confidence in the government's ability to run the health service properly.

All the blood banks in Peru will undergo a more exhaustive evaluation than the one which was already under way, Vallejos said.

The HIV and hepatitis C scare are black marks on Peru's public health services, already overwhelmed by the powerful August earthquake that killed 519 and left some 200,000 people homeless.


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