Hepatitis C virus transmission, 1988-1991, via blood components from donors subsequently found to be anti-HCV-positive

Ulla Foberg, Bengt Ekermo, Anders Widell, Ulrik Mathiesen, Aril Fryden

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The recipients of blood components, from the first 12 anti-hepatitis C virus (HCV) positive donors identified by blood donor screening, 1985-1991, were traced retrospectively and tested to assess the HCV transmission rate, HCV genotypes and disease severity. Three enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) positive but RIBA-indeterminate and HCV RNA-negative donors did not transmit HCV to their 9 traced recipients. Nine RIBA- and HCV RNA-positive donors had donated blood to 27 now living recipients of whom 16/27 (59%) were viraemic 1-5 years later. Nine recipients had resolved infection, as determined by PCR HCV RNA. Five of these were RIBA-2 positive but HCV RNA-negative and 4 recipients were RIBA-2-indeterminate and HCV RNA-negative. Two recipients negative in all tests had probably received blood before the donor became infected with HCV. The HCV genotype in each case was identical between the donor and the recipient. Of the viraemic recipients, 50% (8/16) were unsuitable for further investigation or therapy due to their high age and/or underlying severe disease. At most, only 30% (8/27) of the recipients were suitable for further investigation and/or treatment. Two of these were already diagnosed as being infected with HCV before being traced. It is concluded that the benefit of a general tracing of recipients of blood components from HCV-infected donors is doubtful since only a few of them are suitable candidates for treatment. Our results seem to indicate that it is more appropriate to recommend anti-HCV testing to those seeking medical care who have received transfusions or undergone major surgery before 1992, i.e. before anti-HCV-screening was initiated.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-26
JournalScandinavian Journal of Infectious Diseases
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1996

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Infectious Medicine


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