Probe exposes contaminated blood

The Japan Red Cross Society said Tuesday that an investigation has shown that 210 units of blood designated for use in transfusions were contaminated with hepatitis viruses or HIV, and that six people have been infected as a result of tainted blood supplies.

The Red Cross told a Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry committee meeting that an investigation exposed 207 units of blood as having been contaminated with hepatitis B, two with hepatitis C and one with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

The 210 blood units are among about 17,000 shipped for transfusions since April 1994, the Red Cross said.

Many of the units in question were used in blood transfusions, with five people infected with hepatitis B and one with HIV as a result, it said.

The Red Cross also submitted to the ministry panel draft guidelines aimed at ensuring that all the shipped blood units will undergo followup investigations. It plans to notify nationwide blood centers of the guidelines.

The investigation was conducted after the ministry ordered it last June, saying the Red Cross’ safety measures were inadequate.