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N Engl J Med. 2004 Aug 19;351(8):751-9.

Probability of viremia with HBV, HCV, HIV, and HTLV among tissue donors in the United States.

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  • 1Transmissible Diseases Department, American Red Cross, Rockville, Md 20855, USA. zous@usa.redcross.org



Tissue-banking organizations in the United States have introduced various review and testing procedures to reduce the risk of the transmission of viral infections from tissue grafts. We estimated the current probability of undetected viremia with hepatitis B virus (HBV), hepatitis C virus (HCV), human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), and human T-lymphotropic virus (HTLV) among tissue donors.


Rates of prevalence of hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) and antibodies against HIV (anti-HIV), HCV (anti-HCV), and HTLV (anti-HTLV) were determined among 11,391 donors to five tissue banks in the United States. The data were compared with those of first-time blood donors in order to generate estimated incidence rates among tissue donors. The probability of viremia undetected by screening at the time of tissue donation was estimated on the basis of the incidence estimates and the window periods for these infections.


The prevalence of confirmed positive tests among tissue donors was 0.093 percent for anti-HIV, 0.229 percent for HBsAg, 1.091 percent for anti-HCV, and 0.068 percent for anti-HTLV. The incidence rates were estimated to be 30.118, 18.325, 12.380, and 5.586 per 100,000 person-years, respectively. The estimated probability of viremia at the time of donation was 1 in 55,000, 1 in 34,000, 1 in 42,000, and 1 in 128,000, respectively.


The prevalence rates of HBV, HCV, HIV, and HTLV infections are lower among tissue donors than in the general population. However, the estimated probability of undetected viremia at the time of tissue donation is higher among tissue donors than among first-time blood donors. The addition of nucleic acid-amplification testing to the screening of tissue donors should reduce the risk of these infections among recipients of donated tissues.

Copyright 2004 Massachusetts Medical Society

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