BACKGROUND: Persons with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) risk behaviors are excluded from donation to reduce the risk of transfusion-transmitted infection. Persons donating to be tested for HIV may therefore deny risk behaviors.

STUDY DESIGN AND METHODS: A random sample of donors completed a survey on motivations, knowledge, and attitudes on the screening process. Donors were considered test seekers if they agreed with two statements “I think that blood donation is a good, fast, and anonymous way to get my blood tested” and “I donate to get my test results.” This study was conducted from June to November 2006 at the largest blood bank in São Paulo, Brazil.

RESULTS: Of 3061 participants, 208 (7%) were test seekers. They tended to be male and had a lower educational level. They were more likely to have incorrect knowledge about blood safety (e.g., not knowing that a unit can test antibody negative and still transmit infection, 50% vs. 42%, p = 0.02), express dissatisfaction with screening questions (e.g., feeling that important questions were not asked, 14% vs. 5%, p < 0.01), and concur that donors do not answer questions truthfully (e.g., donors have more sexual partners than they admit, 29% vs. 18%, p < 0.01). Test seekers were more likely to believe that it is acceptable to donate blood to get tested for HIV (41% vs. 10%, p < 0.01).

CONCLUSIONS: Test-seeking motivation, coupled with low knowledge of window period risk, is counter to improving blood safety and to donor prevention needs. Donor education needs to be improved along with availability of appropriate HIV counseling and testing.