Russia: prosecutors investigate how patient contracted HIV during blood transfusion

Prosecutors opened a criminal investigation Wednesday into how at least one patient accidentally received blood from an HIV-positive donor in a central Russian city, officials said. A woman in Voronezh, 475 kilometers (300 miles) south of Moscow, has been diagnosed HIV-positive after undergoing blood transfusion after childbirth, and health officials have given conflicting accounts of how many more people were at risk of having contracted HIV the virus that causes AIDS from that donor.

Voronezh chief sanitary doctor Mikhail Chubirko was quoted as saying Tuesday that as many as 208 people could have been infected after receiving medication containing plasma from the HIV-positive donor, the ITAR-Tass news agency reported.

As for those patients who may have received medication, an investigation is being conducted into the matter, "but it is too early to talk about any concrete results," Ivanov said.

Galina Gorshkova, spokeswoman for Voronezh prosecutors told The Associated Press that a criminal case in connection with the incident was opened Wednesday under a law that covers infecting people with HIV through unprofessional activity. The law calls for up to five years in prison and removal from job for up to three years.

The infected woman, meanwhile, said she would sue the blood transfusion center. "The blame is fully with the medics who cleared the blood of the donor without completing the checks," the ITAR-Tass news agency quoted her as saying. She said she was very worried about her six-month-old child born several days before she had a blood transfusion. "Perhaps, my child has no HIV infection, but nobody can guarantee this because he was feeding from mother's milk," she said according to the news agency.

The HIV infection, found at a regional blood transfusion station, was traced to a 35-year-old female who had been donating blood for several years, ITAR-Tass reported.

Official statistics show that 330,000 Russians have HIV, but UN experts say the true number in more than 1 million and that the country's epidemic is the biggest in Europe and one of the fastest spreading in the world, reported AP. P.T.

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