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Transfus Med Hemother. 2017 Aug;44(4):263-272. doi: 10.1159/000460301. Epub 2017 May 5.

Occult Hepatitis Infection in Transfusion Medicine: Screening Policy and Assessment of Current Use of Anti-HBc Testing.

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Department of Internal and Specialty Medicine, U.O.C. Immunohematology, Transfusion Medicine and Transplant Immunology, Azienda Ospedaliera Universitaria, Università degli Studi della Campania 'Luigi Vanvitelli', Naples, Italy.
Multidisciplinary Department of Medical-Surgical and Odontostomatological Specialties, Università degli Studi della Campania 'Luigi Vanvitelli', Naples, Italy.
Department of Medical, Surgical, Neurological, Metabolic and Geriatric Sciences, Università degli Studi della Campania 'Luigi Vanvitelli', Naples, Italy.
Foundation SDN, Institute of Diagnostic and Nuclear Development, IRCCS, Naples, Italy.


HBV still represents a global risk factor in transfusion medicine. The residual risk of HBV is not limited to pre-seroconversion window period but it extends to donors with occult HBV infection (OBI) characterized by the presence of HBV DNA in liver and by the absence of the virus surface antigen. Each country developed an appropriate blood screening policy according to local HBV prevalence, yields of infectious units per different screening methods and cost-effectiveness. We underline the need of maintaining a high level of attention for OBI carrier identification in all blood banks worldwide where the screening procedures are generally based on a combination of both serological markers and nucleic acid amplification test. In this context, markers such as hepatitis B surface antibodies and hepatitis B core antibodies (anti-HBc) might be useful, although the use of this latter is highly debated and still controversial. Our aim is to give an overview on the relevant diagnostic approaches for the routine screening for HBV focusing on the feasibility of anti-HBc testing as precautionary measure in preventing OBI transmission worldwide. In our tailored algorithm, the loss of about 1% of 'anti-HBc only' donors, does not significantly affect the blood supply while improving recipient safety.


Anti-HBc; Blood donor screening; Blood safety; HBV OBI; HBs-Ag; NAT

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