Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala State AIDS Control Society (KSACS) has said no to setting up centralised Nucleic Acid Testing (NAT) facility in government sector for reducing the window period in detection of HIV infection. The proposal for setting up NAT facility at Regional Blood Transfusion Centre at Aluva blood bank was submitted five years ago. KSACS director Dr R. Ramesh said the proposal was not viable financially and logistically. “The state does not require a centralised facility. NACO has already given sanction for fourth generation Elisa test kits in government blood banks which will be introduced soon,” he added.
The KSACS director said NAT proposal spoke about transporting blood from the blood bank across the state to particular centre. “Transportation of blood for long distances is not a feasible at all. There could be many questions about safety,” he added. He said the proposal looked good on paper but it is not cost effective. “Our aim should be not just to make available blood but also at cheap rate,” he said. Officials say even the Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka which had launched centralised facility, had failed to achieve the desired results.
They said one of the blood banks in private sector which has NAT facility over 50,000 samples were tested of which only a couple of these were found to be HIV. This can be done successfully by Elisa fourth generation test. However, those backing the proposal say Aluva Centre has laboratory set iup and resources for setting up NAT. It requires support for consumables. The centre deployed blood transportation van.
They refuted the argument that blood components cannot be transported at optimum temperature for long distances. Moreover, the logistics of collection, transport and transmission of results would be the responsibility of the service provider company as was being done in neighbouring state. Experts say NAT can help bring down the risk of transfusion-transmitted infections considerably thereby reducing the overall infection rates and disease burden on the society. It also combines the advantages of direct detection of the organism with sensitivity.