Autologous blood donor screening indicated a lower prevalence of viral hepatitis in EastvsWest Germany: epidemiological benefit from established health resources

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Summary.Prevalence data concerning viral hepatitis and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in the general population are usually scarce. We aimed for a large cohort representative of the general population that required little funding. Autologous blood donors are relatively representative of the general population, and are tested for viral hepatitis and HIV in many countries. However, frequently these data are not captured for epidemiologic purposes. We analysed data from well over 35 000 autologous blood donors as recorded in 21 different transfusion centres for anti-hepatitis C virus (HCV), HBsAg and anti-HIV, as well as TPHA if available. We found a lower prevalence of hepatitis B virus and HCV in East vs West Germany, 0.2%vs 0.32% and 0.16%vs 0.32% respectively, which confirms earlier data in smaller cohorts, thus supporting the value of our approach. HIV was too rare to disclose significant differences, 0.01%vs 0.02%. TPHA was higher in East (0.34%) vs West Germany (0.29%) without significant differences. HCV was more frequent in women vs men. Transfusion institutes managing autologous blood donations should be used as a resource for epidemiological data relating to viral hepatitis and HIV, if such testing is performed routinely. This approach generates data relating to the general population with especial emphasis on undiagnosed cases.

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