Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Blood supply safety--paid versus unpaid

The Food and Drug Administration is responsible for keeping the blood suppy safe. As anyone who gives blood knows, before you can give blood you have to be interviewed about your sexual habits and other potential risk factors. Some donors are turned away, "deferred," based on their answers. (There are recently limits on how much cumulative time overseas a donor can have had, which exclude me.)

Here is a transcript of an FDA conference on Behavior-Based Donor Deferrals in the NAT Era (NAT is nucleic acid testing, i.e. it refers to the non-behavioral ways of screening the blood supply). It has some interesting points, including this on paid versus unpaid donation:

"But looking a little bit more closely at the role that has been played by behavioral exclusion, this is just an example for viral hepatitis. In the 1970s there was concomitant introduction of labeling of paid versus volunteer donation for blood for transfusion, which was at the same time as the first generation of the test for HBsAg, and the combined effect was a very dramatic, approximately 90 percent, reduction. We have never completely teased out how much of this was due solely to the change in labeling which eliminated paid donation, but we do know from the antecedent literature that paid donation was highly associated with transmission of hepatitis."

That is, donors can be paid for blood donation, but paid donations must be labelled as such.

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