HIV Infection from Blood Transfusions

Can I get HIV infection from a blood transfusion?

All donated blood in the US is tested for viruses that could be spread from one person to another in blood. HIV is one of these viruses. HIV is the virus that causes AIDS (autoimmune deficiency syndrome), which is a life-threatening disease. Over time, HIV weakens your ability to fight off serious infections and some cancers. When this happens, HIV infection becomes AIDS.

When tests find HIV in donated blood, the blood is thrown out. The person who gave the blood is:

  • Told about the test result
  • Advised to see their healthcare provider
  • Asked not to give blood in the future

What are the chances of being infected with HIV from a blood transfusion?

Because blood donated in the US is tested for HIV, it’s very unlikely that you will get an infection from a blood transfusion. The chance that donated blood will contain HIV is less than 1 in nearly 2 million. People who want to donate blood are screened carefully. However, if a blood donor was infected with HIV within 2 weeks before giving blood, tests may not find the virus in the blood. This means there is a slight chance that a blood transfusion might infect someone who gets donated blood.

How can I prevent infection from transfusion?

If you are planning to have an operation, you may be able to donate your own blood before your surgery. Your blood can then be used if you need blood during or after surgery. There is an added cost for this because of the extra processing and storage involved, but it is a sure way to avoid infection. Ask your healthcare provider about this.

Developed by RelayHealth.
Adult Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2014-02-11
Last reviewed: 2014-02-07
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All rights reserved.

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