Sharjah, September 11: A pioneering technology used for early detection of contagious viral infection in blood donors has helped prevent Hepatitis B infection from five donors in the country, it was announced on Thursday.
Officials revealed the first success story of Nucleic Acid Test (NAT) to Minister of Health Dr. Hanif Hassan during his visit to the NAT lab at the Blood Transfusion and Research Services Centre in Sharjah.
The minister pointed out that safe blood transfusion service is a top priority for the UAE government.
“Conventional serological tests are done based on the presence of antibodies and they take up to two to six weeks to give the correct result.
“The NAT facility gives the accurate results in a much faster way, reducing the detection time to two or three days after infection,” Dr. Amin Hussain Al Amiri, CEO of Medical Licensing and Practice in the Ministry of Health, told
Khaleej Times later.
“The new sensitive test can also detect the infection even in patients with a very low viral load, as low as just 30 virus copies,” he said.
The state-of-the-art lab technique using the DNA samples of blood donors helps detect HIV and Hepatitis B and C infections at the earliest possible time, even before the body produces antibodies to fight the infection.
The first NAT lab in the UAE, also the first in the Arab world, was launched late in 2007.
Dr. Amiri said the NAT facility, which is also the World Health Organisation’s regional collaborative centre, detected Hepatitis B infection in two out of 28,000 blood donors.
“When all the serological tests were negative in these cases, the NAT result was positive for Hepatitis B. So, we could discard the blood collected from the donors and start treatment
Details of three more cases of infection detected in Abu Dhabi and Dubai were not immediately released.