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"Is a blood sample needed before I can donate blood?"

ZocdocAnswersIs a blood sample needed before I can donate blood?

Question

How do blood banks check to see if someone has HIV before they take blood. Is there a screening or blood sample drawn first? I am worried and would like to know.

Answer

When a person goes to donate blood, they fill out a very detailed questionnaire. This contains a list of questions aimed at cutting down the pool of blood donors to those that do not engage in activities that put them at higher risk of contracting blood-borne infections such as hepatitis or HIV. Examples of these high-risk activities include intravenous drug use, travel to certain areas of the world and sexual activity with prostitutes. All blood that is obtained from donors is put through a very rigorous screening process, which includes very sensitive tests for a variety of infections, including HIV, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C. Donors are contacted on an individual and confidential basis if any of their samples turn up positive for any abnormalities.

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