Blood Safety

Blood Bank of Alaska ensures that all blood products are safe for distribution through a series of tests and standard operating procedures.  As part of the FDA guidelines all donated blood must go through the same process before being released to our partner hospitals.


ABO/Rh –This refers to what people call their blood type.  The ABO blood group determines if you are A, B, AB, or O.  The Rh blood type determines if you are positive or negative.

ABY – This refers to the red cell antibody screen.

The following viruses are usually transmitted through exposure to blood and therefore tested by our laboratory:

HBc – This test refers to antibodies to Hepatitis B core (anti-HBc).  These antibodies may be present in donors with a previous infection with the Hepatitis B virus.

HBsAg – This test refers to the Hepatits B surface antigen or HBsAg.  This test is used to detect part of the virus in donors who are infected with the Hepatitis B virus (HBV).

HCV – This test is used to detect antibodies to the Hepatitis C virus (anti-HCV).  A majority of persons infected with HCV are unaware that they are infected.  HCV can lead to liver cancer and cirrhosis.

HIV-  Human Immunodeficiency Virus; Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is a virus. You may hear that someone is “HIV infected”, “has HIV infection”, or “has HIV disease.” These are all terms that mean the person has HIV in his or her body and can pass the virus to other people.

HIV attacks the body’s immune system. The immune system protects the body from infections and disease, but has no clear way to protect it from HIV. Over time, most people infected with HIV become less able to fight off the germs that we are all exposed to every day. Many of these germs do not usually make a healthy person sick, but they can cause life-threatening infections and cancers in a person whose immune system has been weakened by HIV.

HTLV – Virus associated with AIDS  Human T-cell Lymphotropic Virus or Human T-lymphotropic virus Type 1 (HTLV-I), also called the Adult T-cell lymphoma virus type 1, a virus that has been implicated in several kinds of diseases including HTLV-I-associated myelopathy, Strongyloides stercoralis hyper-infection, and a virus cancer link for leukemia (see adult T-cell leukemia/lymphoma). Between 2-5% of infected persons are thought to develop cancer as a result of the virus.

NAT refers to nucleic acid testing using extraction of nucleic acid from donor plasma followed by a step to amplify and detect viruses.  These tests are used to detect a number of viruses including:

NATB – NAT testing for the Hepatitis B virus

NATC–NAT testing for the Hepatitis C virus

NATH – NAT testing for the HIV virus

NATW – NAT testing for the West Nile Virus.  Unlike most of the viruses that are transmitted through exposure to blood, the West Nile virus is transmitted through mosquitoes.  The majority of persons infected have no symptoms or may have a febrile illness.  Less than 1% may be affected by a severe neuroinvasive disease such as meningoencephalitis.

STS – Screening test for syphilis.

CMV –  Cytomegalovirus (CMV) testing is performed to locate products negative for antibodies to CMV to be used on low birthweight premature infants and other special patients to prevent infection with the virus.

Trypanosoma cruzi (Chagas) – This test is used to determine if donors have antibodies to T. cruzi, the parasite that causes Chagas disease.  This disease is common in portions of Mexico, Central and South America.  This is caused by the bite of a reduviid bug.  Most infected persons display no symptoms of the disease.