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Donating Blood

If you are a blood donor, you may receive a letter from the American Red Cross or another blood collection agency notifying you that you may be infected with hepatitis B. What should you do in the event that you receive such a letter?

First, do not panic. The letter does not necessarily mean that you are infected with hepatitis B.

All donated blood is screened for hepatitis B, as well as other blood-borne viruses such as HIV and hepatitis C. Many blood banks use the "hepatitis B core antibody" test to screen donor blood for potential hepatitis B infection. This test can detect whether a person might have been exposed to the hepatitis B virus, but by itself this blood test doesn't tell whether the person is actually infected or not. This is why it is very important to see your doctor for additional hepatitis B blood tests.

Further Blood Tests Are Needed

If the blood bank tells you that the "hepatitis B core antibody" test was positive, you could be:

  • chronically infected with hepatitis B;
  • recovering from an infection;
  • already recovered from a past infection;
  • the result could be a false positive.

You won't know without further blood tests. This is why it is so important that you see your doctor for follow-up hepatitis B testing.



Page last modified October 21, 2009

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