This day in History…March 2nd 1985 to be exact!
Did you know that blood banks did not begin screening the U.S. blood supply until 1985? This day in history 32 years ago, the USDA licensed the first commercial blood test known as ELISA to detect HIV. Prior to this date, a person receiving blood for any reason was at risk of acquiring the virus.
In 1981, the first cases of AIDS, initially called GRID (Gay-related Immunodeficiency Disease), due to its prevalence among gay men, were reported. The disease was later renamed AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome). It was because of blood-transmitted diseases such as Viral Hepatitis (first case in 1943) and later HIV that prompted the National Blood Banks to develop the screening process. Testing for Hepatitis B was mandated by the FDA in 1971.
By 1999, blood centers in the United States began the implementation of Nucleic Acid Testing (also known as NAT) for all blood donations.
As a result of the screening process, it is now virtually unheard of for someone in the U.S. to acquire HIV through a blood transfusion.