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April 4, 1990

Blood Bank Officials Hope Donor Altruism Will Pass New (Anti-HCV) Test

JAMA. 1990;263(13):1749-1750. doi:10.1001/jama.1990.03440130019003

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POSTTRANSFUSION hepatitis rates are predicted to become as low as 1% to 2% once a new screening test for hepatitis C virus (HCV) gains approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and is used by US blood banks.

Virtual elimination of this agent, which accounts for up to 90% of post-transfusion hepatitis, will make the blood supply safer than ever, predicts Harvey Alter, MD, chief of the Immunology Section, Department of Transfusion Medicine, at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI).

During the early 1960s, up to 33% of patients who received blood transfusions got hepatitis; during the 1970s, after introduction of screening tests for type B, the rate was approximately 15%. The rate is now estimated at 3% to 10% overall; more transfusions received mean greater risk.

However, blood bank officials are apprehensive that falling incidence and prevalence rates in recipients may be accompanied by a rise