BACKGROUND: Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is an important transfusion-transmitted virus with global significance. The objective of this study was to evaluate the HCV prevalence and incidence among Chinese blood donors from 2013 to 2016.
STUDY DESIGN AND METHODS: Whole blood and apheresis platelet donations collected from five Chinese blood centers from June 1, 2013, to December 31, 2016, were screened in parallel by two different enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays for anti-HIV 1/2, hepatitis B surface antigen, anti-HCV, and syphilis. Screening-reactive samples were further confirmed by western blot. Confirmatory positive rates among first-time and repeat donors were used to estimate the prevalence and incidence rates. Multivariable logistic regression modeling was used to examine factors associated with HCV infection.
RESULTS: A total of 1,276,544 donations were collected from five Chinese blood centers, of which an estimated 1203 were confirmed HCV positive. The overall HCV prevalence among first-time donors was 166.56 per 100,000 donors (95% confidence interval, 156.04-177.08). The HCV incidence rate was estimated to be 15.21 (95% confidence interval, 11.83-19.56) per 100,000 person-years among repeat donors. Multivariable logistic regression results showed that increased age, lower educational levels, ethnicity, and occupation were all important factors associated with HCV confirmatory status among first-time donors (p < 0.01).
CONCLUSIONS: HCV infection is still an important concern for transfusion safety in China. Our findings indicate that continued strong efforts are needed to monitor and control the risk of transfusion-transmitted HCV infection in China. Moreover, to reduce unnecessary donor loss, HCV donor screening procedures should be improved by incorporating confirmatory testing into routine blood center operations.