This is the text of a note which I received today from the local blood center which I visited two weeks ago. All emphases are from the original letter.
Thank you for your valuable blood donation on September 28, 2005. The Bergen Community Regional Blood Center performs the following test on all donated blood: HIV, HTLV, HCV, HBV (surface antigen and core antibodies), Syphilis and West Nile Virus. This letter contains information about all test results on your blood that were unacceptable. Any test not mentioned in this letter, tested negative (non-reactive) and was acceptable.
HIV Screening Tests Reactive/Confirmatory Tests Negative:
When the blood center tested your blood sample for HIV, the initial screening test was reactive (positive). Because of its extreme sensitivity, the initial screening test can be reactive in donors who have not been exposed to HIV (Human Immunodeficiency Virus). A confirmatory test performed on your blood sample was NEGATIVE. This means that the screening test was most likely a false reactive.
THE TEST RESULTS DO NOT INDICATE INFECTION WITH HIV AND DO NOT SIGNIFY A KNOWN RISK TO YOUR HEALTH. However the test results affect your status as a blood donor.
Can I continue to donate blood?
Donors with these test results are not permitted to donate for six (6) months. During this period your name is placed on a confidential deferral list at Bergen Community Regional Blood Center. This information is not release. After six months you are invited to come to the blood center in Paramus to be retested. If the retest results are negative you are re-entered and are eligible to donate. In keeping with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations, if the retesting is not negative you are no longer allowed to donate for others. Donors will be advised of the testing results.
Our Medical Director advises our donors to share any abnormal testing results with their personal physician.
So after almost thirty years of donating blood, I've noticed the standards applied going up and up, to the point where I now am on a special confidential (oops) deferral list. The scariness of the language during the "negative confession" risk factor interview before the donation has also escalated steadily, as well as in the handout health literature. The original reason I went to donate was because of all the phone calls and notes I'd been receiving the last several months describing the severe whole blood shortage. Though the system clearly wants my blood, it also fears it, culminating in this.