Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started
My Medicine

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

HIV & AIDS Health Center

Font Size

Infection Risk From Blood, Tissues Now Tiny

But Does Extra Blood Safety Come at Too High a Cost?
WebMD Health News

Aug. 18, 2004 -- You've now got a near-zero chance of getting HIV or hepatitis C from a blood transfusion or tissue graft, new studies show. But is this extra safety worth the extra cost?

In the early 1980s, there wasn't any way to tell whether a blood transfusion carried the deadly AIDS virus. What saved the day were antibody tests. These tests showed whether a blood donor's body was mounting an immune response against HIV. A similar test for hepatitis C virus also made blood safer.

But a dangerous window remained open. If people donated blood or tissues after getting a virus infection but before their bodies mounted an antibody attack on the virus, the tainted blood could not be detected. Now, a new technology -- nucleic acid testing -- is used to test donated blood and tissue for a virus' genetic material.

How well are these tests working? Very well, according to two reports in the Aug. 19 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine. An editorial by Jesse Goodman, MD, MPH, director of the FDA's Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research (CBER), accompanies the reports.

"I think the biggest message here is the tremendous advance in blood safety from HIV and hepatitis C virus, which are probably the two most serious illnesses that can be potentially transmitted by blood," Goodman tells WebMD. "What has happened here is in the space of just 20 years since HIV and hepatitis C virus were really infecting significant numbers of blood donors -- with pretty tragic consequences -- first we had pretty effective antibody tests, which dramatically improved blood safety, and now on top of that we have a new test. [These tests] now make the risk of getting HIV or the most serious hepatitis virus one in 2 million."

1 | 2 | 3 | 4

Today on WebMD

How much do you know?
contemplative man
What to do now.
Should you be tested?
HIV under microscope
What does it mean?
HIV AIDS Screening
man opening condom wrapper
HIV AIDS Treatment
Discrimination Stigma
Treatment Side Effects
grilled chicken and vegetables
obese man standing on scale
cold sore