Blood safety decisions, 1982 to 1986: Perceptions and misconceptions

T. F. Zuck, M. E. Eyster

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Summary Although blood bankers and those who treat persons with hemophilia are supportive of most of the recommendations of the Report, the manner in which the analysis was conducted and some of the general conclusions that were reached appear flawed. The flaws may reflect the deficiencies in the process by which the Committee gathered data more than any bias on the part of its members themselves. The Report may accurately reflect the testimony heard, but it is biased by the committee's acceptance as fact the opinions of critics who claim the AIDS epidemic was mismanaged by the blood-collecting agencies, professional organizations, hemophilia organizations, and the federal government. Countervailing views on the various issues are ignored or incompletely discussed. Much testimony was taken from the victims of the transfusion-associated AIDS epidemic. Reliance seems to have been placed upon hindsight testimony (taken 10 years after the events), rather than on documentation of what was known at the time when events unfolded. The Report states that [t]he Committee's charge did not include the development of assertions about what should have been done at the time,l(pl:4) yet that is precisely what was done. These comments address just a few of the misconceptions we perceive in the Report. They are based on our understanding of the state of knowledge-or ignoranceat the time that decisions about the safety of the blood supply were made. If we are to avert future threats to the blood supply from emerging infectious diseases, a goal that is universally embraced, we must learn the lessons the past can teach us, as painful as they may be. However, the hazards of judging history in hindsight should be avoided. Neither allegations nor opinions should be accepted as facts without critical examination and without placement in the context of contemporary knowledge; to accept a lesser standard does a great injustice to all who were touched by this tragedy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)928-931
Number of pages4
Issue number10
StatePublished - 1996

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Hematology


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