Blood donations are screened for several different infections that could be passed on to the recipient of the blood -- including HIV. If donated blood appears to have HIV or any other abnormality, the donor will be notified within a few weeks. This may be by letter or telephone. It will be necessary to be tested again to confirm that the first test done was accurate and not a false positive.
But making a blood donation is not a good way to get an HIV test. The American Red Cross and America's Blood Centers urge people who are concerned about their HIV status and those who may have undiagnosed HIV not to donate blood.
While the tests blood banks use are extremely sensitive, they cannot pick up very recent infections, so there remains a risk that HIV infected blood could be missed in tests and then be given to people requiring a blood transfusion -- resulting in an HIV infection.
If you need an HIV test, there are many other places you can get tested.
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In addition, our Q&A experts sometimes address questions about blood donations in our "Ask the Experts" forums. Here are some of those questions and our experts' responses:
- Blood Donation Notification
How long would it take for a blood bank to notify someone if there was something wrong with donated blood?
- HIV screening for donating blood
My sister recently tried to donate blood and was denied. She received a letter stating that she was HIV positive. How accurate are the tests that the Red Cross performs? She is getting an HIV test but I would like to know what the accuracy is of their testing is.
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For additional reliable information on these topics, we recommend the following pages on other websites: