Face-to-face interviewing in predonation screening: lack of effect on detected human immunodeficiency virus and hepatitis C virus infections

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Predonation screening has become more elaborate over the years, while human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)- and hepatitis C virus (HCV)-positive donations have declined. The impact of face-to-face interviewing and of the format of the Donor Health Assessment Questionnaire (DHAQ) have not been evaluated.


Canadian Blood Services DHAQ records between 1990 and 2004 were examined, and changes in them were tracked. The proportion of first-time donors permanently deferred for HIV or HCV risk, and the HIV and HCV rates per 100,000 donations, were calculated annually. Time-series analysis was used to determine whether major predonation screening changes had any effect on the HIV or HCV rates or permanent deferrals.


In 1992, receiving money or drugs for sex was added to the DHAQ; otherwise, the content of high-risk questions changed little between 1990 and 2004. In 1997, the method of administration of the DHAQ changed from donor-completed to face-to-face interviewing for high-risk questions. Permanent deferrals for HIV or HCV risk factors and HIV and HCV rates in first-time donors decreased over this period. The HIV rates were close to 0 before 1997, whereas HCV rates decreased steadily through 2004. There was no interruption in rates in 1997 when the method of administration changed.


Face-to-face interviewing for high-risk questions had no effect on HIV or HCV rates in first-time donations over 15 years of observation (during the latter 8 of which face-to-face interviewing was in place), and it did not increase permanent deferrals for HIV or HCV risk factors.

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