High prevalence and poor linkage to care of transfusion-transmitted infections among blood donors in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania

J Viral Hepat. 2019 Jun;26(6):750-756. doi: 10.1111/jvh.13073. Epub 2019 Feb 27.


Blood transfusion is one of the most commonly relied upon therapies in sub-Saharan Africa. Existing safeguards recommended include systematic screening for transfusion-transmitted infections and restricted voluntary nonremunerated blood donor selection. We report the transfusion-transmitted infection screening and notification practice at a large urban blood transfusion centre in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania. Between October 2016 and March 2017 anonymized records of all donors registered at the blood transfusion unit were accessed to retrospectively note demographic information, donor status, first-time status, transfusion-transmitted infection result and notification. 6402 consecutive donors were screened for transfusion-transmitted infections; the majority were family/replacement blood donors (88.0%) and male (83.8%). Overall transfusion-transmitted infections prevalence was 8.4% (95% CI 7.8-9.1), with hepatitis B being the most prevalent infection (4.1% (95% CI 3.6-4.6)). Transfusion-transmitted infections were more common in family/replacement blood donors (9.0% (95% CI 8.3-9.8)) as compared to voluntary nonremunerated blood donor (4.1% (95% CI 2.8-5.7)). A minority of infected-donors were notified of a positive result (8.5% (95% CI 6.3-11.2)). Although transfusion-transmitted infections are more prevalent among family/replacement blood donors, overall risk of transfusion-transmitted infections across all groups is considerable. In addition, existing efforts to notify donors of a positive transfusion-transmitted infection are poor. Future policies must focus on improving linkage to care for newly diagnosed patients with transfusion-transmitted infections.

Keywords: blood donation; linkage to care; sub-Saharan Africa; transfusion-transmitted infections (TTIs).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Blood Donors*
  • Blood Transfusion
  • Disease Notification
  • Family
  • Female
  • HIV Infections / blood
  • HIV Infections / diagnosis
  • HIV Infections / epidemiology*
  • Hepatitis B / blood
  • Hepatitis B / diagnosis
  • Hepatitis B / epidemiology*
  • Hepatitis C / blood
  • Hepatitis C / diagnosis
  • Hepatitis C / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mass Screening
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Tanzania / epidemiology
  • Transfusion Reaction / epidemiology*
  • Transfusion Reaction / prevention & control*
  • Transfusion Reaction / virology
  • Young Adult