HIV-positive blood donors unaware of their sexual at-risk behaviours before donation in Italy

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Background and Objectives

Despite the procedures adopted for the selection of blood donors, in Italy the HIV prevalence per 100 000 repeat tested donors (RTD) and first-time tested donors (FTD) is high compared to most other Council of Europe member states. To evaluate the effectiveness of predonation procedures, we studied both the characteristics and the undisclosed risk behaviours of HIV-positive donors.

Materials and Methods

We analysed the data from the Italian blood donor surveillance system in 2009, 2010 and 2011. Based on the postdonation interview, HIV-positive donors were classified by risk behaviour (heterosexual, MSM, ‘non-sexual’ and ‘not determined’) and by time elapsed from risk behaviour to donation. In Italy, the temporary deferral for exposure to behaviour at risk is 4 months.


In the postdonation interview, 113 HIV-positive donors (32·4%), who denied at-risk behaviours in the predonation selection, reported sexual risk behaviours <4 months prior to donation; they were predominantly males (84·1%) and RTD (63·7%). The main reason for not having reported the risk behaviour in the predonation selection was ‘not realizing having engaged in at-risk behaviour’ (66·4%).


These findings underline the need for more comprehensible educational material, a clearer predonation questionnaire, and effective information campaigns to improve the awareness of HIV sexual risk behaviours among blood donors.

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