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Transfusion Transmitted Disease: Learning Objectives

Medical Importance

In spite of stringent donor screening and extensive laboratory testing, blood still can transmit infectious diseases. Emerging infectious diseases may contaminate the blood supply and affect availability of blood products. Your patients may ask you about the safety of the blood you are giving them, or about their chances of getting AIDS if they need a transfusion. Patients often wonder "Would it be a good idea if my spouse donated blood for me?" and families often ask "Can I donate blood for my relative (child, brother, sister, etc)?"


  1. Be able to name the blood component most likely to cause bacterial sepsis, and explain the reason why.
  2. Be able to identify the two major causes of post-transfusion hepatitis, frequency of occurrence in the US population, and relative risk of transmission in blood transfusions.
  3. Be able to give the approximate risk of HIV transmission per unit of blood.
  4. Be able to explain the meaning of "window period" in the context of transmission of West Nile virus in blood or transplanted tissues.
  5. Be able to explain why directed donation (blood given by relatives or friends) should not be regarded as safer than blood from a regular volunteer donor.