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Abstract

In a survey carried out from 1985 through 1986, volunteer blood donors to The Greater New York Blood Program were tested for two surrogate markers for non-A, non-B hepatitis–elevation of alanine aminotransferase level and presence of antibody to hepatitis B core antigen. Stored serum samples from selected donors were also recently tested for antibody to hepatitis C virus (anti-HCV). Anti-HCV was detected in 0.9% to 1.4% of donors and was higher in black and Hispanic donors than in white donors. Anti-HCV prevalence increased with increasing age through the fourth decade of life, but decreased thereafter, possibly reflecting the disappearance of detectable antibody with time. Anti-HCV correlated with both alanine aminotransferase level and the presence or absence of antibody to hepatitis B core antigen. These associations suggest that donor screening for elevation of alanine aminotransferase level and presence of antibody to hepatitis B core antigen was, as expected, at least partially effective in preventing transfusionassociated non-A, non-B hepatitis. The detection of anti-HCV in donors who have neither an elevation of alanine aminotransferase level nor presence of antibody to hepatitis B core antigen suggests that donor screening for anti-HCV will further reduce the risk of transfusion-associated hepatitis.