28 January 2000 --
This is a four-part series.
Often you may feel quite well even though your blood may be carrying certain viruses or other infectious agents. But these infectious agents can cause illness in the people who receive your blood.
Before you give blood, you will be asked a number of personal questions regarding your health, travel and sexual history. This is necessary to ensure that you are well enough to donate blood, that the donation will not affect your well being, and that you are not at risk of having an infectious disease which may harm the recipient of your blood donation.
While the blood bank tests every blood donation for Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C, HIV 1 and 2, and Syphilis, it also continues to rely on blood donors to say if their blood is suitable for transfusion; it is important that the information given by the blood donor at the donation interview is true.
Conditions that make your blood unsuitable for donation
- Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome(AIDS)/HIV infection
HIV infection is caused by the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV 1 & 2). The end stage of this disease is called AIDS.
It is mainly spread through sexual contact with an infected person and sharing contaminated needles like those used by intravenous drug abusers. It can, in rare instances, be spread through blood transfusion if contaminated blood is used. It can also be passed from a HIV infected mother to her newborn baby.
Persons with AIDS have reduced resistance against infection because their body's defence mechanism is significantly weakened. Hence, they may develop severe and fatal infections like pneumonia and rare forms of cancer.
Most people who have been infected with HIV do not know that they carry the virus because they may look and feel completely well. During the early stage of infection called the "window period" (the window period is the time interval between infection and detection of HIV by currently available tests), laboratory tests used by the Blood Bank may not be able to pick up the HIV infection. But they can pass the HIV virus on if they donate blood.
This is why people who may be exposed to the HIV virus must not donate blood. Certain persons are at an increased risk of developing HIV infection and must not give blood. They are:
- Men and women who have had a positive HIV test or who have AIDS.
- Men and women who have had sex with multiple partners.
- Men and woman who have engaged in casual sex.
- Men who have had sex with another man at any time since 1977.
- Men and women who have injected themselves with drugs.
- Men and women who are prostitutes.
- Men and women with signs and symptoms suggestive of AIDS, i.e., weight loss, swollen glands in the neck, armpits or groins, persistent diarrhoea or rare cancers.
- Men and women who have had sex with anyone in these groups.
People who think they may have been exposed to HIV should not donate blood. They should just obtain a HIV test. HIV testing is available at government polyclinics and the anonymous HIV testing clinic (call Tel: 252-1324 for information). People who think they may have been exposed to HIV should still not give blood even if their test returns a negative result.
Hepatitis (Liver Inflammation)
Hepatitis is a viral disease that affects the liver. Hepatitis can be caused by different hepatitis viruses e.g. Hepatitis A, B and C. People with hepatitis get jaundice ("yellowness" of skin and eyes), dark urine, right upper abdominal pain, fever, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting. Patients who develop Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C can become seriously ill and develop complications such as liver cirrhosis (hardening of liver) or liver cancer.
- If you have had Hepatitis, ask your attending doctor which type it is.
- If you have had Hepatitis B or Hepatitis C, you should not donate blood because the virus can be spread through transfusion of contaminated blood with serious consequences for the patient receiving the transfusion.
- A person may have been exposed to the Hepatitis B or C virus without being aware of it and becomes a carrier for the virus. A carrier can be diagnosed by blood tests for Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C. If your blood tests show that you are carrying the Hepatitis B or Hepatitis C virus, you must not donate blood.
- If you have had Hepatitis A, you should not donate blood for at least 10 years after recovery from the illness. You must inform the SBTS doctor about Hepatitis A.
- As a precautionary measure, if you have had close contact with any person who has had hepatitis, do not donate blood for at least 12 months. You should seek advice from your family doctor about this contact.
If you have had Syphillis or any other type of VD (Venereal disease or sexually transmitted disease), your blood is unsuitable for donation. People who have Syphilis or VD can develop a genital rash, ulcer or discharge, fever or swollen glands in the groins. You should consult your family doctor if you think that you may have Syphillis or other types of VD.
Malaria is caused by the plasmodium parasite that attacks the red blood cells. It is usually spread by the Anopheles mosquitoes but can also be transmitted through transfusion of infected red blood cells.
- If you have had malaria, do not donate blood for at least three years after completion of treatment.
- If you have visited a country where malaria is a problem, you should not donate blood for at least six weeks after leaving that country. If you are not sure whether you have visited a country with a malaria problem, please consult the SBTS doctor at the blood donation session.
- If you have visited a country where multi-drug resistant malaria is a problem and you have not taken any anti-malarial medication, do not donate blood for at least six months. If you have taken anti-malarial medication, you must wait for at least three years after returning to Singapore before donating blood. However you can still donate plasma during this period. You can ask the SBTS doctor at the blood donation session about plasma donations.
Other conditions that may make you unsuitable for blood donation will be made known to you by the doctor or nurse who screens you.
What should I do?
If you have had or think that you may have one of the above mentioned conditions, please do not donate blood. Even if you are already at SBTS, you may leave without giving any explanation.
If you prefer to, you may discuss your condition in private with the SBTS doctor at the blood donation session or you can consult your own family physician.
If you have already donated blood but think that your blood should not be used for transfusion, please call 1800-226-3320 to inform SBTS as soon as possible.
Where you can donate blood
Singapore Blood Transfusion Service
National Blood Centre
(Opposite Outram Park MRT Station)
11 Outram Road, Singapore 169078 Opening Hours
Tel: 223-5640, 229-0626
| Monday - Thursday
|| 9.00 am - 6.00 pm |
|| 9.00 am - 8.00 pm |
| Saturday & Sunday
|| 9.00 am - 2.00 pm |
Reprinted with permission from the Singapore Blood Transfusion Service
Date reviewed: 25 January 2000