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October 3, 1986

The Impact of Routine HTLV-III Antibody Testing of Blood and Plasma Donors on Public Health

JAMA. 1986;256(13):1778-1783. doi:10.1001/jama.1986.03380130106037

The appearance of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) has brought suffering and death to those who are afflicted and, at the same time, has posed daunting challenges to those who care for the sufferers, to biomedical scientists, and to those responsible for public health and public policy. Among these challenges is the protection of the nation's blood supply from contamination by the causative agent of AIDS—human immunodeficiency virus (previously referred to as human T-cell lymphotropic virus type III [HTLV-III]/lymphadenopathy-associated virus and subsequently referred to in this document as HIV in accordance with emerging and recommended usage). This challenge was met rapidly by the development of laboratory tests to detect the presence of antibody against the virus. The application of these tests makes it possible to determine whether the person has been infected by the virus at some time and, thus, to exclude persons from donating blood or to discard blood already