Screening for blood born viruses in assisted reproduction: is annual testing necessary?
Screening for blood born viruses is routinely performed before fertility treatment in assisted reproduction technology (ART) clinics worldwide. It involves testing for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis B virus (HBV), and hepatitis C virus (HCV), among others. Identifying patients with positive viral screening allows to refer them and their partners for appropriate counseling and treatment. The need for repeat viral screening and its required frequency have never been clearly established. In Israel, viral screening is mandatory and is repeated annually. Our aim was to determine the prevalence of HBV, HCV, and HIV seroconversion in patients with negative screening upon initiation of ART treatment.
A retrospective analysis of viral screening tests of all fertility patients in a single assisted conception unit between 1997 and 2015.
During the study period, 2844 patients were treated at our clinic, out of whom 1945 patients met the inclusion criteria. The average length of treatment was 1.61 ± 0.81 years, during which female patients underwent screening tests 2.6 ± 0.9 times, and male patients 2.3 ± 1.2 times. No case of seroconversion to any of the three viruses was noted during the entire study period, resulting a seroconversion rate of 0%.
Primary infection with HBV, HCV, or HIV is an extremely rare event among Israeli infertile patients, and the risk for seroconversion in this population is practically nil. Annual screening of both partners leads to substantial costs and appears to be futile. Our results question the current practice and support increasing the interval between screening tests in low-risk populations.
KeywordsART Hepatitis HIV Viral screening
EG project development, data collection, and manuscript writing. YM data management, data analysis, and manuscript editing. AS project development and manuscript editing. JF project development and manuscript editing. EH project development and manuscript editing. AR project development and manuscript editing. SA project development and manuscript editing. DL project development and manuscript editing. AR project development and manuscript editing. AW project development, data management, and manuscript editing.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
For this type of study, formal consent is not required.
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
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