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BACKGROUND: Numerous reports have noted the existence of sera, particularly from resolving cases of HBV infection, that are positive for HBV DNA by PCR, despite being negative for HBsAg and IgM anti-HBc. If such blood is infective and detectable by HBV NAT screening, it seems desirable to introduce such screening for transfused blood.

STUDY DESIGN AND METHODS: Three chimpanzees were inoculated with serum and lymphocytes from three patients who were HBV DNA PCR positive, but HBsAg negative. The animals were tested over a period of 15 months for HBsAg, anti-HBs, anti-HBc, and HBV DNA by PCR.

RESULTS: All animals remained uninfected.

CONCLUSION: Small amounts of plasma and MNCs from HBV DNA-positive HBsAg-negative blood do not appear to be infectious; however, further studies with larger volumes of inoculum should be conducted.