Reducing the risk of transfusion-transmissible viral infection through blood donor selection: The Australian experience 2000 through 2006

Mark N. Polizzotto, Erica M. Wood, Helen Ingham, Anthony J. Keller

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BACKGROUND: Selection of voluntary donors who are at low risk of transfusion-transmissible viral infection (TTVI) is central in maintaining the safety of the blood supply. Evaluation of its effectiveness and the dynamics of the process may offer opportunities to further improve transfusion safety. STUDY DESIGN AND METHODS: The impact of donor selection on prevalence of TTVI was analyzed in all allogeneic donations in Australia between July 2000 and June 2006 by interviewing donors found to have a TTVI. The presence and disclosure of infective risks was reassessed. RESULTS: A total of 6.3 million donations were tested; of these, 1449 (0.02%) were repeat-reactive for a TTVI and were discarded. This comprised 605 (42%) positive for the presence of hepatitis B, 818 (56%) positive for the presence of hepatitis C, 18 (1%) positive for the presence of human immunodeficiency virus, and 20 (1%) positive for the presence of human T-cell lymphotropic virus-I and/or -II (HTLV-I/II). This prevalence was 50 to 350 times lower than in the Australian population. In 1158 cases (80%), an infective risk was identified; 509 donors (44%) had more than one. The most common identified were country of birth and parental ethnicity (n = 682, 26% of risks), tattoos and/or piercings (n = 448, 18%), and intravenous drug use (n = 302, 12%). In 302 cases (21%) disclosure at predonation screening would have resulted in deferral. Factors influencing nondisclosure included temporal remoteness and perceptions that laboratory testing rendered disclosure unnecessary. CONCLUSION: These findings affirm the effectiveness of current stringent donor selection criteria in reducing the residual risk of TTVI. Ongoing donor education regarding the importance of risk disclosure is required.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)55-63
Number of pages9
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2008
Externally publishedYes

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