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Can I Donate Blood if I Have Hepatitis?

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Updated April 09, 2014

Question: Can I Donate Blood if I Have Hepatitis?
According to the American Red Cross, someone needs blood in the United States every two seconds. With such a need, everyone who can give blood should; however, some people aren't able to donate because of their health. Do you know if you're eligible?
Answer: If you have hepatitis B or hepatitis C, or ever tested positive for one of them, you can't donate blood. In fact, if you've had any kind of viral hepatitis, or unexplained jaundice, at any time since you were age 11, you're not able to donate blood.

You also won't be able to give blood if you've had hepatitis with cytomegalovirus or the mononucleosis-causing Epstein-Barr Virus. However, you can donate blood if you've had non-viral hepatitis from a toxin, drug reaction or alcohol use.

There are temporary restrictions for people who may have been exposed to viral hepatitis, but don't test positive. If you've had any of the following possible exposures, you will need to wait one full year from the end of your exposure until you can donate blood:

  • If you live with or had sex with someone who has hepatitis
  • If you've been jailed, detained or incarcerated for more than 3 days
  • If you've received a non-autologous blood transfusion (someone else's blood), a needle-stick injury, or any other exposure to someone else's blood

Donating blood is a very generous and charitable action that meets a crucial medical need. However, if you're unable to donate blood because you have hepatitis (or don't meet one of the other eligibility guidelines) there are other things you can do to help.

According to the American Red Cross, you can organize and sponsor a blood drive, encourage other people to donate blood or even volunteer at your local "blood drive." The ARC has more information on its website about how you can help.

Sources:

American Red Cross Website. Accessed: July 31, 2009. http://www.redcross.org/.

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