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Abstract

Background and Objectives: Twenty five to 30% of multiple-transfusion recipients in India show evidence of infection with both HBV and non-A non-B hepatitis or HCV. To be licensed, blood banks must screen each donor unit for HBsAg, antibodies to HIV-1 and -2, and VDRL. Materials and Methods: Between 1989 and 1996, 132,093 voluntary and replacement donors at this centre were screened for the above markers, using commercially available kits. Some 19,531 donors were screened for HCV antibodies in 1995 and 1996 with an inhouse EIA, using a synthetic peptide from core, NS3 and NS4 region proteins of all major HCV strains. Results: Data were tabulated annually. The proportion of voluntary donors increased from 15 to 32% during the eight years. HBsAg rates remained below 2.5%, antibodies to HIV increased from 0.04% to 0.55%, and VDRL reactivity increased from 0.23 to 0.52% between 1989 and 1995. Prevalence of all three infections showed a small but significant drop in 1996, and all three were significantly less frequent in voluntary donors. HCV antibodies were detected in 1.49% of donors tested. Donors with multiple infections were uncommon. Conclusions: A change to voluntary blood transfusion service and addition of anti-HBc, anti-HCV, and possibly HIV antigen to the mandatory list for screening donor blood would reduce posttransfusion infections. Indigenous production of these assays would mitigate the financial burden, as has been the experience with the in-house HCV assay.