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Could Singaporean Transfusion Service Have Infected HIV Positive Man?

Man who donated HIV tainted blood jailed“, says a headline on asiaone health website. According to the article, the man “failed to declare on his donor health assessment form that he had recently slept with prostitutes”. The discovery was made after the man donated blood in November 2009. He had previously donated blood between July 2008 and August 2009 and was HIV negative. But his alleged unprotected sex with sex workers was said to have taken place in December 2007, so that particular event was not responsible for his change of status.

Anyhow, the false declarations he is said to have made were for earlier donations, not the one found to be contaminated. But the blood transfusion service would do well to investigate its own services. Because, if the man in question did not have any further possible sexual exposures to HIV after the one in 2007, he might have been infected through the use of contaminated equipment by the transfusion services. This phenomenon has been common in the past in China and is still likely to be a considerable risk.

According to a statement from the Health Science Authority, it “takes its responsibility to safeguard the national blood supply very seriously”. Therefore, they might also like to taken into account the very low prevalence of HIV among Chinese sex workers (the incident was said to have involved Chinese sex workers), estimated to be about 0.6% (which is the same as national prevalence for the US). Indeed, a number of countries have found that sex workers are not very likely to be HIV positive unless they also face non-sexual risks, such as intravenous drug use. A true assessment of risk for HIV and other blood borne viruses can not be made without taking into account both sexual and non-sexual risks.

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