South African Blacks No Longer Considered High-Risk Blood Donors
September 30, 2005
A new risk assessment model for blood donations that "does not use race as an indicator of blood safety" was unveiled Thursday by South Africa's National Blood Service. In December, controversy erupted when the service acknowledged that race was a criterion in determining whether a donor was high-risk because blacks have a higher incidence of HIV/AIDS than whites.
Saying the blood bank used racist methodology, Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang demanded that a new risk assessment model be developed.
"We cannot allow any form of prejudice to limit the great potential we have as a country," Tshabalala-Msimang said at a news conference Thursday after expressing satisfaction that the blood bank changed its model. "All of the people of South Africa should be given an equal opportunity -- without any discrimination on the basis of race, gender or any other factor -- to contribute to the supply of safe blood," she said.
Under the new model, donors will be screened for HIV and hepatitis B and C using viral amplification technology -- becoming the world's first large blood transfusion service to use the technology for testing.
Agence France Presse