Knowledge of HIV testing and attitudes towards blood donation at three blood centres in Brazil

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Reducing risk of HIV window period transmission requires understanding of donor knowledge and attitudes related to HIV and risk factors.

Study Design and Methods

We conducted a survey of 7635 presenting blood donors at three Brazilian blood centres from 15 October through 20 November 2009. Participants completed a questionnaire on HIV knowledge and attitudes about blood donation. Six questions about blood testing and HIV were evaluated using maximum likelihood chi-square and logistic regression. Test seeking was classified in non-overlapping categories according to answers to one direct and two indirect questions.


Overall, respondents were male (64%) repeat donors (67%) between 18 and 49 years old (91%). Nearly 60% believed blood centres use better HIV tests than other places; however, 42% were unaware of the HIV window period. Approximately 50% believed it was appropriate to donate to be tested for HIV, but 67% said it was not acceptable to donate with risk factors even if blood is tested. Logistic regression found that less education, Hemope-Recife blood centre, replacement, potential and self-disclosed test-seeking were associated with less HIV knowledge.


HIV knowledge related to blood safety remains low among Brazilian blood donors. A subset finds it appropriate to be tested at blood centres and may be unaware of the HIV window period. These donations may impose a significant risk to the safety of the blood supply. Decreasing test-seeking and changing beliefs about the appropriateness of individuals with behavioural risk factors donating blood could reduce the risk of transfusing an infectious unit.

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