How is transfusion-transmitted HBV infection prevented?

Updated: Jan 15, 2017
  • Author: Mudassar Zia, MD; Chief Editor: Emmanuel C Besa, MD  more...
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Hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) detection is a routine in many parts of the world. However, some chronic carriers have such a low viral load that screening by HBsAg may not be able to detect the infection in the donor. To overcome this obstacle, many blood banks in several countries also attempt to detect antibody against the hepatitis B core antigen (anti-HBcAg or anti-HBc). [26, 27] The core antibody develops early in the course of the infection and remains positive even in patients with low-level viremia.

Hepatitis B poses another problem in some chronically infected people in whom HBV DNA is present in the blood products, but also in whom HBsAg is not detectable and anti-HBc is also equivocal. NAT has tremendous potential in this area of transfusion medicine. [20, 28, 29] Hepatitis B–positive donors are permanently deferred from giving blood.

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