• ARC = American Red Cross;
  • HBcAb = HBc antibody;
  • IRR(s) = incidence rate ratio(s);
  • REDS = Retrovirus Epidemiology Donor Study;
  • STD(s) = sexually transmitted disease(s);
  • STS = serologic test for syphilis

BACKGROUND: To evaluate whether the active recruitment of young donors of high school and college age could affect the safety of the blood supply, prevalence and incidence rates of infectious disease markers among donors aged 17 to 18 and 19 to 22 were compared to those in donors 23 years of age and older.

STUDY DESIGN AND METHODS: Over 15 percent of 4.97 million whole blood donations were collected from donors aged 17 to 18 and 19 to 22. Prevalence (per 100,000 first-time donors) and incidence (per 100,000 person-years) rates for confirmed infectious diseases were compared between age groups.

RESULTS: The prevalence estimates for HIV, HCV, HTLV-I and -II, and serologic tests for syphilis (STS) were significantly lower among first-time donors aged 17 to 18 and 19 to 22 than among those 23 to 44 years of age. HBsAg prevalence was higher in the first-time donors in the younger groups than in first-time donors in the older group because of higher prevalences among Asians and blacks. The incidence rates of HIV, HCV, and HTLV were similar in the younger groups and the older group. Donors 19 to 22 years of age had a higher incidence rate of estimated HBV than did donors aged 23 to 44 and 45+ (p<0.001), but the incidence rate of STS was lower in donors aged 17 to 18 and 19 to 22 than in donors 23 to 44 and 45+ years of age (p<0.001).

CONCLUSION: Aggressive recruitment of school-age donors should not result in an increased risk of transmission-transmitted infections, with the possible exception of HBV.