Transfusion-transmissible infections in Australia Surveillance Report 2019

This report is jointly produced by the Australian Red Cross Lifeblood and the Kirby Institute via the Surveillance, Evaluation and Research Program, which is responsible for monitoring the pattern of transmission of HIV, viral hepatitis, and specific sexually transmissible infections in Australia. This is the ninth report that summarises donation testing data, and incidence and prevalence trends for transfusion transmissible infections (TTIs) among Australian blood donors. While it is an important Lifeblood resource, it is also intended to be a reference document for organisations and individuals interested in the occurrence of transfusion transmissible infections in Australia and the effectiveness of Lifeblood’s infectious disease blood safety strategy. The data in the report is current at the time of publication and all efforts have been undertaken to confirm its accuracy, however subsequent data updates may occur and users must consider this.

Key findings
  • Over the ten year period 2009–2018, there were over 13 million blood donations in Australia with an average of 1.3 million donations per year. Over the past ten years, 2009–2018, there has been no significant change in the total number of donations. Total blood donations in 2018 increased by 5% (representing 70,160 more donations) compared to 2017.
  • In 2018, a total of 150 blood donors were detected as having a TTI for which screening is in place, namely, hepatitis B virus (HBV), hepatitis C virus (HCV), human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), human T cell lymphotropic virus (HTLV), or active syphilis. In 2018, one donor was infected by more than one TTI (HBV and HCV co-infection), making a total of 151 TTIs detected. In the ten year period 2009–2018 a total of 1,875 TTIs were detected.
  • There were 79 HBV infections detected among all donations in 2018 (62 in first time donors and 17 in repeat donors).
  • There were 53 HCV infections detected among all donors in 2018 (32 in first time donors and 21 in repeat donors). The proportion of HCV RNA positive (potentially infectious) donors was 32%, a figure that has incrementally declined from around 75% when HCV RNA donation testing was introduced in 2000.
  • There were seven HIV infections detected among all donations in 2018 (four first time and three repeat donors).