Blood donation is a noble cause. Of that, there’s no doubt. But if you have certain medical conditions, you can’t donate blood – no matter how much you want to.
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Prior to accepting donations, blood banks usually conduct health screenings for their donors. This is to ensure that the donated blood they distribute will not harm the recipients. Thus, people with blood-transmissible diseases are barred from donating.
So can you donate blood if you have HPV?
Yes, you can definitely donate blood even if you have HPV as long as you’re feeling well and meets all the blood donation requirements. HPV might be the most common sexually transmitted disease in the world. But there’s no conclusive scientific proof yet that it can spread through blood transfusion. This means you can’t pass on the HPV virus when you donate blood.
The World Health Organization (WHO) also recommends that donors who recently received an HPV vaccine shall be accepted.
What is Human Papillomavirus (HPV)?
As the name suggests, Human papillomavirus (HPV) causes papillomas or warts in humans. According to the CDC, almost everyone can have it at some point in their life. In fact, it infects up to 79 million people in the US at any given time.
Despite this, only a small percentage of those infected show symptoms. Most HPV strains go away on their own. So there’s usually no way of telling if you have it or you’ve already had it.
But if it does show symptoms, it usually manifests in small bumps shaped like cauliflower with flat lesions. It usually appears in the genital area. Various types of warts may also appear in other parts of the body like the hands, feet, and face.
Some HPV infections, however, develop into cervical and other types of cancer.
How HPV Spreads
According to the CDC, anyone who is sexually active can get and spread HPV. It spreads from person to person usually through skin-to-skin genital contact.
The WHO also reported that it’s possible to get HPV just from touching surfaces that have been in contact with an infected person. It can also spread even if the infected person is not showing any symptoms.
There might not be any conclusive proof that HPV can be transferred by blood. But recent studies show it might be possible.
Researchers at Penn State University found that rabbit and mouse papillomaviruses can be transmitted through the blood. The papillomaviruses in these animals bear a strong resemblance to the virus found in humans. Thus, they hypothesized that HPV can also be transmitted by blood.
A study conducted in humans also came to similar conclusions. The study tested patients with Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) to see if they also have HPV. Of the fifty-seven pediatric patients, eight tested positive for HPV. All of them have histories of blood transfusions but have never had any sexual encounters before the testing.
Researchers from both studies admitted that further research has to be done before this can be proven. For now, the WHO, CDC, and Red Cross maintain that HPV cannot be transferred by blood and we shall stick to that.
Where to Donate Blood in the US
There are many places around the country that accepts blood donations all year round. The most famous of which is the American Red Cross. They have blood centers all around the US. Just go to their website to schedule an appointment and they’ll point you the blood bank nearest you.
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You can also visit America’s Blood Centers website or that of the AABB. They allow you to search for a blood center in your area as well as any ongoing blood drives that you can participate in.