Blood transfusion safety

Testing of donated blood

The first step in reducing the risk of transmission of infectious diseases through blood is to select voluntary non-remunerated donors from low-risk populations who give blood on a regular basis as these individuals are at a lower risk of transmitting transfusion-transmissible infections than are family/replacement donors, or paid donors. However, even with the most careful selection, some donors may be seropositive for HIV or other infectious agents. Therefore, rigorous screening of all donated blood is required to ensure the safety of the blood supply.

Finnish Red Cross

WHO recommends that all blood donations be screened for evidence of infection prior to the release of the blood and its components for clinical or manufacturing use. Screening of all blood donations should be mandatory for HIV, hepatitis B and C and syphilis.

The donated blood should also be tested for ABO and RhD to ensure the safety and compatibility of the transfusion for the patient.

WHO encourages and supports countries, through provision of advice and training, in the development and implementation of these activities in accordance with their needs.

Key documents

Related links

World Blood Donor Day 2017

What can you do? Give blood. Give now. Give often.

Contact information

Blood Transfusion Safety
Service Delivery and Safety
Health Systems and Innovation
World Health Organization
20 Avenue Appia
1211 Geneva 27