Objective: To assess the incidence of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) transmission by antibody (anti-HIV-1)-positive blood components, and to determine the immunologic and clinical course in HIV-1-infected recipients.
Design and Subjects: We retrospectively tested approximately 200 000 donor blood component specimens stored in late 1984 and 1985 for anti-HIV-1, and we contacted recipients of positive specimens to determine their serologic status. They were compared with both recipients of HIV-1-negative transfusions and healthy (untransfused) controls. Subjects were seen at 3- to 6-month intervals for up to 4 years for clinical and immunologic evaluations.
Measurements and Main Results: Of 133 recipients, 9 had other possible exposures. Excluding these cases, 111 of 124 (89.5%) were anti-HIV-1-positive (95% CI, 84.1% to 94.5%). The recipient's sex, age, underlying condition, and type of component did not influence infection rates. The cumulative risk for developing the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) within 38 months after transfusion was 13% (CI, 7.5% to 21.6%). At 36 ± 3 months after the index transfusion, seropositive recipients had lower counts of CD2+CDw26+, CD4+, CD4+CD29+, and CD4+CD45RA+ subsets and more CD8+I2+ lymphocytes than did recipients of anti-HIV-1-negative transfusions. The CD4+ and CD2+CDw26+ subsets changed the most rapidly. The absolute CD8+ count remained normal.
Conclusions: Transfusion of anti-HIV-1-positive blood infected 90% of recipients. The rate of progression to AIDS within the first 38 months after infection was similar to that reported for homosexual men and hemophiliacs. Although most lymphocyte subset counts changed over time, CD8+ counts were constant.