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December 1991

Decrease in Reported Posttransfusion Hepatitis: Contributions of Donor Screening for Alanine Aminotransferase and Antibodies to Hepatitis B Core Antigen and Changes in the General Population

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Pathology, Charles A. Dana Research Institute and Harvard Thorndike Laboratory, Beth Israel Hospital and Harvard Medical School (Dr Chambers), Boston, Mass, and the American Red Cross Blood Services—Northeast Region (Dr Popovsky), Dedham, Mass.

Arch Intern Med. 1991;151(12):2445-2448. doi:10.1001/archinte.1991.00400120083014

Blood donor screening for hepatitis B core antibody and elevation of serum alanine aminotransferase level, surrogate markers of hepatitis C/non-A, non-B (NANB) infection, was implemented in 1986. Reported cases of posttransfusion hepatitis (PTH) from 1985 to 1988 were reviewed to ascertain the effect of surrogate testing on the number and character of cases and to compare any changes with those in the incidence of hepatitis in the general population. The reports of all PTH, NANB PTH, and type B PTH decreased 61.5%, 75.4%, and 84.5%, respectively. The rates of reported cases of NANB hepatitis and hepatitis B in the general community also fell during the period of review. The decrease in PTH and background hepatitis was similar between 1985 and 1986. In 1987, the first complete year of surrogate testing, the incidence of PTH decreased at a greater rate, to levels 50% below what would have been projected on the basis of background changes alone for NANB PTH, and to 35% below projected for type B PTH. There appears to have been a substantial decrease in the risk of both type B PTH and NANB PTH in the northeastern United States between 1985 and 1988 due to a combined effect of donor surrogate testing and a decrease in the background rates of hepatitis in the donor population.

(Arch Intern Med. 1991;151:2445-2448)

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