A successful voluntary hemoglobinopathy screening program should have as its goals effective, accurate counseling, preventive medicine, and education. Techniques that detect only the presence of hemoglobin S would not allow these goals to be fulfilled.
The Center for Disease Control is currently offering training courses in laboratory methods of hemoglobinopathy detection for anyone involved in hemoglobinopathy screening. These courses, which are free, stress cellulose acetate electrophoresis as the initial screening test. Besides being inexpensive, the test is easy to perform, allows differentiation of sickle cell disease (eg, SS, SC) from the relatively benign carrier state, and detects other common hemoglobin abnormalities so that effective counseling is possible. The solubility (dithionite) test is used to confirm the presence of a sickling hemoglobin.