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Partnering to Halt the Spread of Infectious Disease through Safer Blood Transfusions

October 31, 2014

Samples at the Liaoning Blood Center, China.

Located in Shenyang in northeastern China, the Liaoning Provincial Blood Center collects, screens, and tests more than 100,000 blood donations a year from the provincial capital's 11.1 million residents. One of the largest blood centers in China, Liaoning is among 15 pilot institutions that have added hepatitis B (HBV DNA), hepatitis C (HCV RNA), and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV-1 RNA) to its standard blood testing program that also includes enzyme immunosorbant assay (EIA) tests. According to Chinese health officials, the tests were launched as a pilot initiative to help prevent infectious transfusions from occurring during the two- to four- week "HIV window period" after the onset of infection, as well as reduce the number of false positive test results that were occurring throughout the country.

Combating the Rise in HIV/AIDS

Despite aggressive efforts to stem the rise of HIV/AIDS in China, the disease has grown steadily over the last decade. Government sources note that nearly a half million Chinese now live with HIV/AIDS. Another 80,000 new HIV/AIDS cases were reported in 2013. Health officials have long suspected that the disease has been migrating from high-risk groups to the general population through intravenous drug use, unprotected sex and undetected HIV-positive blood transfusions that occur during the theoretical "HIV window period." Whatever the cause, the numbers have been sobering. From 2002 to 2009, for example, the ratio of positive HIV test results increased from 0.35 parts per million to 1.759 parts per million, a 500 percent jump in seven years. That high growth rate implied that hepatitis B and C, along with false positive tests, were also on the increase throughout China.

Collaborating with PerkinElmer Leads to Major Discovery

In a preemptive move against the spread of HIV/AIDS, the Liaoning Provincial Blood Center began collaborating with Haoyuan Biotech (now part of PerkinElmer) to design and build one of the first nucleic acid test (or NAT) laboratories in China in 2008. NAT screening offered the advantage of detecting infections earlier than other widely used testing procedures. But the tests' complexity led the Blood Center to also retain Haoyuan Biotech to provide the Center's staff with the technical training necessary to operate the new facility's equipment. By 2010, the Center's nucleic acid laboratory team celebrated milestone when it became the first in China to use NAT technologies to identify an HIV-1 RNA positive blood sample within the theoretical HIV window period. That discovery and several others that soon followed prompted Chinese officials to expand the pilot program to require NAT testing of more than 80% of the nation's blood samples.

Building an Integrated Partnership

The Liaoning Provincial Blood Center and PerkinElmer continue their close collaboration in the fight against infectious disease. That partnership recently led the Blood Center to reach out to PerkinElmer during the summer festival season in 2013 to help conduct hundreds of blood screening tests over a two-day period in an effort to ease the spread of a possible infectious outbreak. PerkinElmer's team response was so immediate and offered such high quality field support that it subsequently earned high praise from both the Blood Center and the Liaoning Provincial Department of Public Health. Proof positive that PerkinElmer lives by its pledge: "For the Better."

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