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Blood donation under the AIDS regime.

Blood donation under the AIDS regime

Since mandatory screening of donated blood to detectantibodies against the AIDS virus began in March 1985, scientists have used the test results to assess the dangers of being infected by one of the nearly 15 million units of blood collected in the United States annually.

Between onset of mandatory testing and July 1986, theproportion of blood units positive for the AIDS antibody (seropositive) dropped significantly from .08 percent to .02 percent, according to data from more than 818,000 units collected in Los Angeles, Baltimore and Atlanta, says John W. Ward of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in Atlanta. Ward reported last week that a CDC-coordinated study of blood donor demographics shows that the majority of seropositive units in those urban areas came from black or Hispanic men who reportedly were bisexual. Another study, reported by Joel N. Kuritsky of the Food and Drug Administration, concluded that intravenous drug users in particular are a high-risk group that continues to donate blood. The CDC study found that the proportion of seropositive donors who had donated blood previously fell from 73 percent to 55 percent over the test period, indicating that some potential donors have voluntarily ceased donating blood.

Current blood screening tests are based on detecting theantibody, and not the virus, associated with AIDS. Because up to six months may pass between infection with the AIDS virus and the appearance of antibodies in the blood, the American Red Cross in Los Angeles studied the risk of being infected by blood that had tested negative for the antibody after it was collected, but still contained the virus and was "potentially infectious.' Previous CDC studies had placed the average risk at 1 in 80,000 units of blood. By identifying seropositive blood donors who also had previously donated blood within the last six months, and the recipients of those earlier units, the Los Angeles group estimates the average risk as 1 in 48,000.
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Author:Edwards, Diane D.
Publication:Science News
Date:Jun 13, 1987
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