Before 1992, the blood from blood donors was not fully tested for hepatitis C. In fact, in the 1980s, more than 200,000 new hepatitis C cases were diagnosed every year and the chances of getting HCV from a blood transfusion were as high as 1 in 100. But thanks to the development of blood screening programs for the hepatitis C virus, by 1992 the risk of infection was reduced to 1 in 100,000. As of 2001, the risk of getting HCV from a unit of transfused blood is less than 1 per million transfused units.
However, there is still a risk of hepatitis C for people who received a transfusion before 1992, when these screening programs were instituted. In 1999, the government instituted a look-back program to identify people who had had a transfusion prior to 1992 and to identify those who might be at risk for hepatitis C. Some people may have received a blood transfusion during surgery and not have known about it. If you’ve ever had surgery, including Cesarean section (C-section) or oral surgery, you may want to get tested.
Receipt of Clotting Products
Hemophiliacs who received clotting factor products prior to 1987 may also be at risk for hepatitis C.
In 1985 and 1987, virus inactivation procedures were developed in response to the HIV epidemic. Since that time, all clotting factor products as well as other blood products undergo virus inactivation procedures or have to be HCV negative before they can be used.