NAT Screening May Lower Undetected Hep C in Donors

Nucleic acid testing screening may be more effective than serology in detecting hepatitis C

MONDAY, June 20 (HealthDay News) -- Nucleic acid testing (NAT) screening for hepatitis C virus (HCV) in organ donors may be more effective than serology alone for detecting infection during the window period, according to a study published in the June issue of the American Journal of Transplantation.

Katherine Ellingson, Ph.D., from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, and colleagues assessed the prevalence and incidence of undetected human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and HCV infection among potential organ donors. From 2004 through 2008, the prevalence of HIV and HCV in 13,667 potential organ donors, managed by 17 organ-procurement organizations, was measured, and the significance of risk reductions conferred by NAT screening versus serology alone was assessed.

The investigators found that, for normal-risk potential donors, the prevalence of HIV was 0.10 percent and, for high-risk potential donors, it was 0.50 percent; the prevalence of HCV was 3.45 percent and 18.20 percent, respectively. Using serologic screening, the estimated incidence of undetected HIV infection for normal-risk potential donors was one in 50, 000 and, for high-risk potential donors, it was one in 11,000; the undetected incidence of HCV by serologic screening was one in 5,000 and one in 1,000, respectively.

"Projected estimates of undetected infection with NAT screening versus serology alone suggest that NAT screening could significantly reduce the rate of undetected HCV for all donor risk strata," the authors write.

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