Original articles

HIV/AIDS affects blood and blood product use at Groote Schuur Hospital, Cape Town

Ntobeko B A Ntusi, Mark W Sonderup


Background. Use of blood and blood products in the medical wards at Groote Schuur Hospital, Cape Town, has increased substantially and significantly increased expenditure. It was suspected that the increased burden of HIV/AIDS could be a contributing factor.
Methods. Doctors voluntarily completed a structured questionnaire when blood or blood products were utilised over a 3-month period in 2009. Statistical analysis was performed using Microsoft Excel, SPSS and STATISTICA.
Results. Of 67 patients analysed, 46 (68.6%) were female, mean age 36.7 (standard deviation (SD) 8.7) years; 21 (31.3%) were male, mean age 39.3 (SD 13.5) years; and 41 (61.2%) were HIV positive, of whom 17 (41.5%) were on antiretroviral therapy (ART). HIV-infected patients were on average 10 years younger than HIV-uninfected patients (p=0.012). Anaemia was the cytopenia necessitating transfusion in 68.7% of cases, but its causes differed between HIV-infected and uninfected patients. The median CD4 count was 203 cells/ml (range 24 - 540) for HIV-infected patients on ART and 74 cells/ml (range 2 - 276) for those not on ART (p=0.012). The mean numbers of packed red cell and fresh-frozen plasma units transfused in the HIV-infected not on ART, HIV-infected on ART and HIV-uninfected groups were 3.3, 2.0 and 1.5 (p=0.013) and 13.5, 2.7 and 1.0 (p<0.001), respectively. ART in HIV-positive patients markedly decreased transfusion requirements (p<0.001). There was one minor transfusion reaction.
Conclusion. HIV/AIDS is a significant factor contributing to the increased use of blood and blood products in the medical wards at Groote Schuur Hospital. Being on ART appeared to reduce the requirement for blood and blood products.

Authors' affiliations

Ntobeko B A Ntusi, University of Cape Town

Mark W Sonderup, University of Cape Town

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HIV, blood transfusions

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2011;101(7):463-466.

Article History

Date submitted: 2010-09-06
Date published: 2011-06-27

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