Objective: To assess progress toward ensuring a globally safe blood supply.
Design and Methods: We examined 2 global databases for blood safety: (1) that of the United Nations General Assembly Special Session on HIV/AIDS (UNGASS) blood safety indicator; and (2) that of the Global Database on Blood Safety (GDBS), a database developed by the World Health Organization. The UNGASS data were collected through the Ministry of Health based on the GDBS data, followed by a reconciliation and cross-checking of the data by World Health Organization and United Nations Programme on AIDS (UNAIDS).
Results: The proportion of United Nations member countries reporting UNGASS data for blood safety is among the highest of all UNGASS indicators: 147 of 192 United Nations Member States participated in UNGASS reporting in 2008 and 125 of them (85%) submitted data on blood safety. Ninety-one of the 125 countries (73%) reported that 100% of collected blood units were screened in a quality assured manner, but 34 countries did not screen all collected blood units in accordance with minimum quality standards. GDBS data showed that 80.7 million blood units were collected globally in 167 countries during 2004-2005, of which 77.3 million were tested for HIV and at least 0.6 million of the remaining 3.4 million donations went untested.
Conclusions: Progress has been made toward eliminating blood transfusion as a significant cause of HIV infection globally. Screening all donated blood for HIV in accordance with minimum quality standards remains vital, however, as health care systems should, at a minimum, do no harm. This goal is achievable and would assist in reaching Millennium Development Goals by 2015.