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November 7, 1986

Screening Blood Donors for HTLV-III Antibody

Author Affiliations

Arlington, Mass

JAMA. 1986;256(17):2344-2345. doi:10.1001/jama.1986.03380170060013

To the Editor.—  The article by Ward et al1 concerning an enzyme immunoassay (EIA) for antibody to human T-cell lymphotropic virus type III suggests a potentially serious conceptual inconsistency in the current program for blood donor screening: the acceptance of a single initial negative EIA result as proof of seronegativity, while a unit twice positive out of three EIAs (denoted 2+/3) is considered seropositive. Since units with an initial negative EIA result were not tested further, one can assume that among the study's 66 621 initially negative units (which were accepted for transfusion) some would have been 2+/3 if three EIAs had been performed. Thus, some units that would have met exclusion criteria may have been allowed into the blood bank by the reported protocol. The number of these missed 2+/3 units can be estimated from the study data.Of the units destined to be 2+/3, one would expect