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National News

Florida: Tainted Donor Blood Infects Two

July 19, 2002

Two people were infected with HIV this year after receiving blood from a donor whose disease went undetected by Florida Blood Services (FBS), the Tampa Bay area's primary blood bank. FBS revealed the discovery Thursday and stressed that the area's blood supply is safe.

The case appears to be the second HIV infection from a blood transfusion since testing improvements went into effect in April 1999. Twelve million pints of blood are donated in the United States every year. Officials have considered the nation's blood supply largely HIV-free since 1985, when the first test was developed to screen donated blood. But a new infection can take seven to 10 days to show up in blood tests, so if a newly infected person donates during that period, the blood will test clean.

The donor, referred to as "he or she," first gave blood on Sept. 12, immediately following the terrorist attacks on the United States. He or she returned loyally every two months -- as often as allowed -- and gave five pints between Sept. 12 and May 11. Testing and re-testing of the donation made May 11 found HIV, which was confirmed the following week by a more precise test. The blood was destroyed and never left the facility. The donor was notified 10 days after the May 11 donation. Another sample, taken May 30, also confirmed HIV. Concerned about the donor's four previous pints, FBS notified the six Tampa Bay area hospitals that had received the blood components. The seven recipients were tested last week. Two were infected: one from red blood cells, and one from plasma; one in Pinellas County, and one in Hillsborough County. Both infected people live in the Tampa Bay area. One has a sexual partner; that person is not infected. The other did not spread the disease through a sexual partner, FBS Medical Director Dr. German Leparc said.

FBS CEO Don Doddridge said the blood bank's records confirm it handled the five donations correctly. The donor's answers on a screening questionnaire revealed no high-risk behavior, and there was no indication the donor had lied. The chance of contracting HIV from donated blood was nearly one in 100 in the early 1980s before the cause of AIDS was identified. Improved testing in the mid-1990s dropped the risk to one in 100,000. Thanks to new RNA tests, the risk today is considered better than one in 2 million.

Back to other CDC news for July 19, 2002

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Adapted from:
St. Petersburg Times
07.19.02; Stephen Nohlgren

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
See Also
More on Blood Safety When Donating or Receiving Blood