Professor Anthon Heyns has in recent months been under fire over the racial profiling of donors, and his contention that black donors pose a higher HIV risk than white donors.
Racial profiling remained the safest, best current-known modus operandi for collecting blood, and was still being used, he is quoted as saying in the latest issue of the SA Medical Journal.
Rather than race, Heyns explained on Thursday, the new donor risk management system being formulated would use donor status as the primary indicator of
risk.' We must also ensure that the rights of patients to safe blood are upheld'
In designing the approach, first we have to do no harm. We need safe blood that we can collect. We must also ensure that the rights of patients to safe blood are upheld.
He said the new system would be predicated on identifying new donor communities who presented a lower risk.
Heyns added that the SANBS was developing an educational programme for donors so that they could participate actively in safeguarding the blood supply.
He said the SANBS was also implementing state-of-the-art nucleic-acid-testing technology, which was a highly sensitive tool for reducing the HIV window risk period.
Heyns said details of the new model were currently being tested by statisticians and scientists, adding that the model would be reviewed by experts before implementation later in the year.
He pointed out that the HIV window period presented a scientific challenge, but the SANBS was exploring all possible means to deal with it. The SANBS would share the details of the new system with the public in the coming weeks and months.
(Source: IOL, April 15, 2005)