Medicine: Coming Soon: Safer Blood

A new test can detect an elusive and dangerous hepatitis virus

Many people who get blood transfusions these days are understandably nervous. Transfusions have saved countless lives, but they have sometimes transmitted serious blood-borne diseases, including AIDS. While public health officials point out that careful testing has all but eradicated the AIDS virus from the blood supply, they have not been able to claim that transfusions are perfectly safe. Reason: about 5% of patients who receive transfusions are exposed to a virus that can cause a potentially deadly liver infection called non-A, non-B hepatitis.

The mysterious malady is so named because it is not caused by the widely recognized A and B...

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