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Current and Emerging Infectious Risks of Blood Transfusions

Michael P. Busch, MD, PhD; Steven H. Kleinman, MD; George J. Nemo, PhD
JAMA. 2003;289(8):959-962. doi:10.1001/jama.289.8.959.
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The blood supply in the United States and other developed countries has never been as safe as it is now. During the past several decades, there have been dramatic progressive reductions in the risk of transfusion-transmitted clinically significant blood-borne infections. This has been accomplished as a result of extensive research to characterize transfusion-transmitted pathogens, development of strategies to measure infection rates in blood donor and recipient populations, characterization of the dynamics of early viremia, and implementation of progressively more restrictive donor eligibility criteria and increasingly sensitive laboratory screening methods.

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Figure. Decline in Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Hepatitis B (HBV) and Hepatitis C (HCV) Risks of Transmission Through Transfusion
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Data were derived from studies sponsored by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Specific references are available from the authors upon request. Estimates before 1991 are based on donor prevalence measurements (black data markers) or recipient follow-up studies (gray data markers); estimates after 1991 represent projections based on mathematical modeling (open data markers). Estimated risk of infection per unit transfused in 2000-2001 was 1:220 000 for HBV; 1:1 600 000 for HCV; and 1:1 800 000 for HIV.

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