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SCIENCE FILE | Science in Brief

Risk of Getting HIV From Blood Transfusion Put at 2 in 1 Million

June 27, 1996|From Times staff and wire reports

The risk of catching the AIDS virus from a blood transfusion is just 2 in 1 million, according to a new report in the June 27 New England Journal of Medicine. "The safety of the blood supply has dramatically increased over the past decade. While there still is a risk, it is exceedingly small," said epidemiologist George B. Schreiber of Westat Inc., a research company in Rockville, Md., that figured the latest odds.

Blood banks routinely find most tainted donations when they check blood for antibodies to HIV and other viruses, but those antibodies typically are not present in blood in the first few weeks of an infection, allowing contaminated blood to slip through. The risk of the cancer virus HTLV getting into the blood supply this way is also about 2 per million, while the risk for hepatitis C is 10 in 1 million, and for hepatitis B, 16 in 1 million.

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