Contaminated blood transfusions have led at least 2,234 Indians to contract HIV over the past 17 months, the BBC reported.
India’s National Aids Control Organization (NACO) released the information at the insistence of information activist Chetan Kothari, who filed a petition for the report.
“This is the official data, provided by the government-run NAO,” Kothari, who said he was “shocked” by the group’s revelation, told the BBC. “I believe the real numbers would be double or triple that.”
India has more than 2 million people living with HIV/AIDS. Hospitals in the country are required by law to screen doctors and donated blood for HIV, hepatitis B and C, as well as malaria and other infections, the BBC reported.
Kothari said the problem lies in the cost of those tests, which can amount to 1,200 rupees, or $18, and a lack of testing facilities in India.
“Even in a big city like Mumbai, only three private hospitals have HIV testing facilities,” Kothari told the news website. “Even the largest government hospitals do not have the technology to screen blood for HIV.”
“This is a very serious matter and must be addressed urgently,” he told the BBC.