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MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2014 Jul 25;63(29):613-9.

Progress toward prevention of transfusion-transmitted hepatitis B and hepatitis C infection--sub-Saharan Africa, 2000-2011.


Infections with hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) are major causes of morbidity and mortality globally, primarily because of sequelae of chronic liver disease including cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. The risks for HBV and HCV transmission via blood transfusions have been described previously and are believed to be higher in countries in sub-Saharan Africa. Reducing the risk for transfusion-transmitted human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), HBV, and HCV infection is a priority for international aid organizations, such as the U.S. President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), the Global Fund to Combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria, and Tuberculosis, and the World Health Organization (WHO). Over the last decade, PEPFAR and the Global Fund have supported blood safety programs in many sub-Saharan African countries with heavy burdens of HIV and acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), hepatitis, malaria, and maternal mortality. This report summarizes HBV- and HCV-related surveillance data reported by the blood transfusion services of WHO member states to WHO's Global Database on Blood Safety (GDBS) (4). It also evaluates the performance of blood safety programs in screening for HBV and HCV in 38 sub-Saharan Africa countries. Selected GDBS indicators were compared for the years 2000 and 2004 (referred to as the 2000/2004 period) and 2010 and 2011 (referred to as the 2010/2011 period). From 2000/2004 to 2010/2011, the median of the annual number of units donated per country increased, the number of countries screening at least 95% of blood donations for HBV and HCV increased, and the median of the national prevalence of HBV and HCV marker-reactive blood donations decreased. These findings suggest that during the past decade, more blood has been donated and screened for HBV and HCV, resulting in a safer blood supply. Investments in blood safety should be continued to further increase the availability and safety of blood products in sub-Saharan Africa.

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