Improved blood tests on the way

The first of nine centers in a national network of laboratories offering the latest technology to test for HIV in donated blood was unveiled in Thessaloniki yesterday after infected blood was detected three times in the last two months. The new center at the AHEPA hospital will be able to conduct nucleic acid testing (NAT) which can detect HIV, the virus which can lead to AIDS, if it has been contracted 11 days or more from when the donor gave blood. Checks at most Greek hospitals can spot HIV if it was contracted 22 or more days before the donation. Health and Social Solidarity Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos said at the end of March that Greek hospitals should update their testing methods after a 17-year-old girl and 76-year-old man in Thessaloniki contracted HIV from the blood of an infected donor. On Wednesday, hospital officials in Athens said an 85-year-old man likely received a transfusion of the infected blood. The AHEPA center will begin operating on May 20, the hospital’s director said. Eight more centers will be set up at hospitals around Greece.