DISPATCH – 2/2/06
policy lowered HIV risk*
CONTROVERSIAL policy that barred many blacks and even President Mbeki
from donating blood led to a substantial drop in HIV-tainted blood
supplies, a study has found.
or more would have been infected from blood transfusions* without the
race-based policy, said senior author Dr Michael Busch of the Blood
Systems Research Institute in San Francisco.
so, Busch said that was not an argument in favour of the policy. Rather,
it underscored "the dilemma of trying to maintain a safe blood
supply in the challenging arena of epidemic infectious disease and
policy barring many blacks from donating blood was in effect from 1999
to 2005. The research looked at nearly 900000 blood donations collected
from the policy's first year as it was phased in, and compared that with
almost 800000 donations collected from 2001/2, when the policy was in
detected in 0,17 percent of donations in the earlier period, but that
dropped 50 percent to 0,08 percent in the second year.
World Health Organisation estimates that up to 10 percent of HIV/Aids
infections globally are acquired from blood transfusions.
risks are highest in countries including South Africa, where it is
believed 5,3 million to more than six million people are infected, the
highest number worldwide.
suggests that 24 HIV-infected units of blood entered SA's blood supply
recently, the blood bank's policy of excluding donations from sexually
active gay men has also come under fire.
say that, too, is now under review. "Black individuals, who
comprise 79 percent of the population contributed only 4,2 percent of
the blood supply in 2001/2, down from 10 percent in 1999,* the authors
Department of Health in December 2004 declared that race was not an
acceptable risk indicator, and officials decided last February to adopt
a new policy.
individual blood samples are tested. - Sapa-AP