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July 23, 1997

Criteria for Screening Blood Donors: Science or Politics?-Reply

Author Affiliations

American Red Cross Holland Laboratory
Medical Coordinating Center for the Retrovirus Epidemiology Donor Study (REDS)
Food and Drug Administration Rockville, Md

JAMA. 1997;278(4):289. doi:10.1001/jama.1997.03550040045028

In Reply.  —Dr Murphy presents a challenging scenario regarding current blood donor qualification criteria. Our study was designed to quantitate and characterize behavioral risks in blood donors based on current screening regulations and standards established by both the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the blood collection community.1,2 These deferral criteria were based on the best scientific and media analysis of risk available at the time and were designed to exclude individuals who may be in the serological "window period" of an early transfusion-transmissible infection—undetectable by current blood screening tests. Deferrals were also designed to avoid collection of infectious units expected to test positive to protect phlebotomists and laboratory workers who draw and test the blood and to prevent the accidental release from quarantine of an infectious unit. Determination of the number of prior sexual partners of donors has been investigated previously and has not proven to be a scientifically valid