How Safe is the Blood Supply in the United States?

  • Roger Y. Dodd


It has long been known that transfusion of blood or its derivatives may also result in the inadvertent transmission of infectious agents, particularly those associated with a silent carrier state. For many years, hepatitis and syphilis were the only diseases which were recognized as transmissible by this route, but there appeared to be relatively little anxiety among the general public. The recognition of AIDS among recipients of clotting factor concentrates and single donor transfusions was, in contrast, widely publicised and led to considerable and continuing concern. Indeed, the association between blood transfusion and AIDS became so firm that a significant proportion of the population mistakenly believed that AIDS could be contracted as a result of giving blood. The need to reduce transfusion associated AIDS led to a new and more intensive focus on the whole issue of the safety of the blood supply. In fact, in the three years following the introduction of HIV antibody screening, three additional tests were implemented by blood collection agencies as measures to reduce the transmission of other viruses. In addition, there have been demonstrable improvements in the methods used to screen the donor population and there is real hope that inactivation of viral or microbial contaminants in cellular blood products will be achieved. It will be shown that the chance of being infected by blood transfusion has never been lower than it is now. Finally, physicians have recognized the need to review the risks and benefits of every transfusion and to seek safe alternatives wherever possible.


Human Immunodeficiency Virus Human Immunodeficiency Virus Infection Acquire Immune Deficiency Syndrome Blood Unit Donor Population 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Roger Y. Dodd
    • 1
  1. 1.Jerome H. Holland LaboratoryAmerican Red CrossRockvilleUSA

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