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HIV and the Blood Supply: An Analysis of Crisis Decisionmaking
transmitting AIDS to hemophilia patients. Suspected cases of transfusion-associated AIDS had been reported, but none were yet proven. According to the report, the evidence suggested a latency period of two months to two years between exposure and onset of symptoms. Brandt noted that a significant proportion of individuals in high-risk groups had no symptoms of AIDS, suggesting that the pool of persons potentially capable of transmitting an AIDS agent may be considerably larger than the known number of AIDS cases.
The PHS made the following recommendations for preventing AIDS transmission:
Sexual contact should be avoided with persons known to have or suspected of having AIDS.
Avoid sex with multiple partners or those who may have multiple partners.
Members of groups at increased risk for AIDS should not donate plasma and/or blood products.
Studies be conducted to evaluate screening procedures for their effectiveness in identifying and excluding plasma and blood with a high probability of transmitting AIDS—including lab tests and physical exams.
Physicians should adhere strictly to medical indications for transfusions.
Work should continue toward development of safer blood products for use by hemophilia patients.
About three weeks later, on March 24, 1983, the FDA notified all establishments collecting source plasma and human blood for transfusion and all manufacturers of plasma derivatives of steps to be taken to decrease the risk of blood or plasma donation by persons who might be at increased risk of transmitting AIDS. These steps included implementing standard operating procedures to quarantine and dispose of any products collected from donors known or suspected of having AIDS. The FDA also advised the blood and plasma collection facilities to establish educational programs to inform persons at increased risk for AIDS that they should stop donating and to train personnel who screen donors to recognize the early signs of AIDS. The FDA also announced that it had approved a new heat treatment to inactivate viruses in AHF concentrate. The treatment was purported to help protect individuals with hemophilia from hepatitis B, and perhaps from AIDS (Petricciani 1984).
Summary and Comment
Government and private agencies identified, considered, and in some cases adopted strategies for dealing with the risk of transmitting AIDS through blood and blood products. The recommended safety measures were limited in scope,