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Chronic hepatitis in United Kingdom blood donors infected with hepatitis C virus

BMJ 1994; 308 doi: (Published 12 March 1994) Cite this as: BMJ 1994;308:695
  1. W L Irving,
  2. K R Neal,
  3. J C E Underwood,
  4. P N Simmonds,
  5. V James
  1. University Hospital, Queen's Medical Centre, Nottingham NG7 2UH Royal Hallamshire Hospital, Sheffield S10 2JF Medical School, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH8 9AG Trent Regional Blood Transfusion Centre, Sheffield S5 7JN
  1. Correspondence to: Dr Irving.
  • Accepted 17 February 1994

Routine screening for antibodies to hepatitis C virus in blood donations was introduced in Britain in 1991. It showed that 1 in 2000 donors was positive for antibodies. The natural course and importance of hepatitis C virus infection in apparently healthy people are unclear. We assessed the value of clinical and laboratory data in predicting the need for liver biopsy in blood donors with antibodies to hepatitis C virus.

Patients, methods, and results

Blood donors in the Trent region are screened for antibodies to hepatitis C virus by second generation enzyme linked immunosorbent assay, and results are confirmed by a four antigen recombinant immunoblot assay. Donors with positive results are interviewed and referred to a consultant for further management. We studied all 52 donors who had had a liver biopsy by 1 May 1993 (30 men, 22 women; aged 21-57 (mean 35) years).

We collected data on risk factors for hepatitis C virus infection, duration of infection (assuming that …

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