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Tests Routinely Performed on Donated Blood

The American Red Cross performs routine dests on donate blood to screen for infection and other harms.

Screening tests for infectious agents (8)

  • antibody to hepatitis C
  • hepatitis B surface antigen
  • antibody to hepatitis B core (total: IgG + IgM)
  • serum alanine aminotransferase (ALT; SGPT)
  • antibody to HIV-1 and HIV-2
  • HIV antigen (to shorten the HIV window period; it now averages 16 days)
  • antibody to HTLV-I/II
  • serological test for syphilis

Screening for antibody to cytomegalovirus (CMV) is performed on products intended for immunocompromised recipients such as patients undergoing chemotherapy for leukemia or cancer, transplant patients, and low birth-weight infants.

In early 1999, the American Red Cross (and other blood collecting organizations) began studying a new test for HIV and hepatitis C called nucleic acid amplification (NAT), designed to detect portions of the actual virus itself. Based on preliminary data, it is hoped this test will further shorten the "window period" for these viruses, resulting in a significant improvement in blood safety.

  • ABO and Rh (D)
  • To detect antibody (against red cell antigens) in plasma of certain donors (from previous pregnancy or transfusion)