Thiruvananthapuram: Transfusion of blood donated by an HIV-infected person during the window period can be the reason for a nine-year-old cancer patient testing positive for HIV, a preliminary investigation has revealed.

Aids Control Society Project Director Dr R Ramesh said it may take two weeks to three months for an infected person to get tested positive. During the window period a person can be infected with HIV but still test negative. Transfusion of blood donated during this period might have led to the child getting infected, he added.

Earlier, two children had reportedly contracted HIV through blood transfusion. In both instances, it was found that the blood they received was donated during the window period.

Most of the labs in the country have the facility to conduct the Nucleic Acid Test (NAT) that detect HIV infection during the window period. The test costs around Rs 800-Rs 1000. Even NAT can detect the infection only two weeks after the person contracts the virus.

At present, no NAT tests are conducted on blood donors in the state. People with high chances of contracting HIV should desist from blood donation, which is the only way to curb such incidents.

Meanwhile, a medical team of experts has begun its probe into the case. The child allegedly got the transfusion of blood at the Regional Cancer Centre (RCC).         

Taking a serious view of the complaint by the victim's father, Kerala Health Minister K K Shylaja directed constitution of a panel, headed by Joint Director of Medical Education (DME), Sreekumari, to probe the matter and submit a report.               

The minister said the state government would bear all expenses for further treatment of the girl. The minor girl was being treated at the Alappuzha Medical College and later referred to the RCC.    

The state human rights panel has also ordered a high-level inquiry into the matter.          

Kerala Human Rights Commission (acting) chairperson P Mohandas said stringent action should be taken against the hospital staff if they were found guilty. It also urged the Left-led state government to compensate the girl's family.                               

Noticing swelling in one of her eyes, doctors at the RCC institute had carried out various tests, including a blood test, which revealed that the girl was HIV positive.

(With PTI inputs)