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Transfusion With Donated Blood and Risk of HIV Infection

Before the test for HIV was developed in March 1985, HIV was spread to people who received blood or blood products donated by HIV-infected people. Since 1985, the risk has been almost eliminated. Blood banks and health professionals:

  • Do not accept blood from people who are at risk for HIV infection.
  • Screen donated blood for HIV.
  • Treat certain blood products to destroy HIV if it is present.

Today, the risk of getting HIV from a transfusion of one unit of blood is extremely low. This low risk does not decrease the importance of limiting the use of donated blood or encouraging people who know they are going to have surgery to donate their own blood (autologous donation).

Recommended Related to HIV/AIDS

The Difference Between HIV and AIDS

HIV is the virus that can become AIDS. AIDS is defined as the most advanced stage of the virus, where the immune system has become so damaged that you're vulnerable to infection and cancers that come from infections. Those are called opportunistic illnesses, because they take advantage of your weakened immune system. They are often fatal. 

Read the The Difference Between HIV and AIDS article > >

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Peter Shalit, MD, PhD - Internal Medicine
Last Revised April 8, 2010

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: April 08, 2010
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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