Russian toddler contracts HIV from transfusion

SAINT-PETERSBURG (AFP) - Doctors in Russia accidentally infected a 16-month-old girl with HIV while giving her a blood transfusion, prosecutors said on Monday, launching a check into the case.

The toddler was given blood from an HIV-infected donor at the Number 5 children's hospital in Saint Petersburg, the country's second-largest city, the prosecutor-general's office said in a statement.

The child underwent a transfusion after developing life-threatening peritonitis because doctors failed to spot that she had swallowed six magnets from a toy, prosecutors said.

The girl, named in media as Daniella, will now face lengthy anti-retroviral treatment after contracting the virus which causes AIDS.

The donor did not know of his HIV-positive status, the Life News website reported, citing prosecutors.

"Those guilty of negligence towards a child who received blood from an HIV-infected donor in Saint Petersburg must be identified and harshly punished," wrote Russia's children's ombudsman Pavel Astakhov on his Twitter account.

Russia has screened donor blood for HIV since 1987, and there have since been fewer than 50 cases of infection from transfusions, Mr Vadim Pokrovsky, director of the Russian federal AIDS centre, told RIA Novosti news agency.

Those who receive HIV-infected blood are almost certain to contract it.

In the latest official statistics from November last year, Russia had 703,731 people registered as HIV-positive, representing 0.4 per cent of the population. The rate of HIV infection is increasing year-on-year, with most contracting HIV from sharing needles to inject drugs.

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