China's blood centers are to adopt a new test for the HIV virus to shorten the period during which it can escape detection in a newly infected donor.
Officials from the National Health and Family Planning Commission revealed the plan yesterday when asked at a press briefing in Beijing about a 5-year-old girl who contracted the virus during an operation when she was a baby.
The nucleic acid test, or NAT, can shorten the period, about 20 days using traditional methods, to just 10 days, commission spokesman Mao Quan’an told reporters.
A pilot program was set up in 2010 covering 12 provinces and municipalities, including Shanghai and Beijing, and in 2013 it began to be promoted across the country. Full coverage should be achieved this year, officials said.
The extra cost was not revealed but is “much more” expensive than the current one, officials said. Regional governments would shoulder the cost, they said.
The girl, known as Maomao, had surgery to treat congenital heart disease when she was 8 months old at the Fujian Medical University Union Hospital in southeast China’s Fujian Province.
She tested positive for HIV last year after which it was found that one of the people whose blood was used during the operation was HIV positive though he tested negative when giving blood.
On Sunday, the hospital and blood center involved were ordered to pay compensation and discussions are to take place with the family.
The cost of Maomao’s treatment soared to 300,000 yuan (US$48,350), leaving the family heavily in debt.