Hepatitis C viraemia in United Kingdom blood donors. A multicentre study.
Garson JA., Clewley JP., Simmonds P., Zhang LQ., Mori J., Ring C., Follett EA., Dow BC., Martin S., Gunson H.
Of 10,633 blood donations tested in three regional blood transfusion centres with two commercial first generation screening assays for antibodies to the hepatitis C virus (HCV), 65 (0.61%) were found to be repeatedly reactive in one or both assays. Five of the 65 were confirmed positive by recombinant immunoblot assay (Ortho RIBA-2) and a further 4 were judged indeterminate. All 5 RIBA-2 positive donations and 1 of the 4 RIBA-2 indeterminates were shown to be viraemic by HCV-RNA polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assays performed at three independent reference laboratories. The remaining 56 screen test reactive donations proved negative by RIBA-2 and, with 1 exception, negative by PCR. We conclude that while first generation anti-HCV screening assays generate a high proportion of false reactions when screening low prevalence populations, results of the RIBA-2 confirmatory test correlate well with PCR findings and thus indirectly with both hepatitis C viraemia and infectivity.