A Transfusion of Fear

Blood recipients are told to consider AIDS testing

The elderly patient had no known risk for AIDS when he received a blood transfusion in 1982. The procedure was routine, similar to one undergone each year by up to 4 million Americans -- victims of auto accidents, those recovering from operations, cancer patients and others. But this transfusion contained the seeds of tragedy: unknown to anyone at the time, the blood was infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). The next year the patient developed an AIDS-related form of pneumonia, and he died in 1984. His wife tested positive for the AIDS antibodies, and was later...