Multiple unconfirmed‐reactive screening tests for viral antibodies among blood donors

J. Buffington, C. N. Shapiro, R. C. Holman, T. W. Strine, B. J. Grossman, A. E. Williams, M. J. Alter, L. B. Schonberger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: In December 1991, the United States Food and Drug Administration received reports of blood donations with unconfirmed reactivity on screening tests for antibodies to human immunodeficiency virus, human T‐lymphotropic virus type I, and hepatitis C virus (HCV). Of 91 donors with these test results, 57 (63%) reported a recent influenza vaccination. STUDY DESIGN AND METHODS: To determine the extent of unconfirmed reactivity, the time at which it began, and its association or nonassociation with specific manufacturers' tests, a nationwide survey of blood centers was conducted. A case‐donation was defined as a blood donation that was repeatedly reactive, but not confirmed positive, on at least two of the three tests from May 1990 through December 1991. RESULTS: Among 14 million donations screened by 110 centers, 582 case‐donations were identified. An increase in case‐ donations was evident in the fall of 1990 (2.8/100,000 donations). In 1991, rates increased from 0.9 per 100,000 donations in the first quarter to 1.3, 3.2, and 19.7 in subsequent quarters. A significantly higher rate of case‐donations was observed among donations tested with one of the two available anti‐HCV screening tests (8.0 vs. 1.2/100,000 donations; risk ratio = 6.8; 95% CI = 5.4–8.5). CONCLUSION: Although unconfirmed reactivity on multiple screening tests appeared to be seasonal, its documentation prior to the availability of influenza vaccine in 1991 and higher rates among donations tested with one manufacturer's anti‐HCV test indicated that test‐specific factors were also involved. 1994 AABB

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)371-375
Number of pages5
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1994


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