Estimates of the frequency of HBV, HCV, and HIV infectious donations entering the blood supply in the United Kingdom, 1996 to 2003.

Health Protection Agency Centre for Infections, Colindale, London, United Kingdom.
Eurosurveillance: bulletin europeen sur les maladies transmissibles = European communicable disease bulletin (Impact Factor: 4.66). 03/2005; 10(2):17-9.
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Several new tests have been recently introduced by the United Kingdom Blood Services to improve safety. The frequency (or risk) of hepatitis B virus (HBV), hepatitis C virus (HCV) and HIV infectious donations entering the UK blood supply during 1996-2003 has been estimated. These years span the introduction of nucleic acid testing (NAT) for HCV, HIV combination antigen and antibody test and NAT for HIV. The frequency of an infectious donation entering the blood supply due to i) the window period, ii) assay failures and iii) human and technical errors in testing and processing, was estimated. The window period risk was estimated using the incidence of infection in donors and the length of the window period for tests in use, with an adjustment for atypical inter-donation intervals in seroconverting donors. The estimated frequency of infectious donations entering the blood supply during 1996-2003 was 1.66, 0.80 and 0.14 per million for HBV, HCV and HIV respectively. HCV NAT resulted in an over 95% fall in the risk of HCV. Current usage of HIV combined antibody-antigen tests and of HIV NAT reduced the estimated risk of HIV by 10%. Since 1996, the risk of transfusion-transmitted HBV, HCV and HIV infection in the UK has been lowered by several improvements to donation testing, although the absolute reduction in risk has been small. Vigilance for errors and the affects of donor selection may be as or more important than further reductions to window periods of tests for improving blood safety with respect to HBV, HCV and HIV.

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