Blood Donation Guidelines for Hepatitis A, B, and C

Donations are denied for some, but not all viral types

There are specific restrictions around blood donation to keep the blood supply safe for those who need it. People with certain types of viral hepatitis cannot donate blood, but this does not apply to all types of hepatitis.

Nurse administering treatment to patient
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If you have viral hepatitis and are inclined to donate blood, it's worth learning if you're truly barred from doing so or not. According to the American Red Cross, someone in the United States needs a blood transfusion every two seconds, translating to around 29,000 units of blood per day. With such a need, anyone who is willing to give blood (and cleared to do so) should do so.

Hepatitis Type Permitted to Donate Prohibited to Donate
A √ (with caveat)  
E √ (with caveat)  

Who Can Donate

  • Hepatitis A is mainly spread through contaminated food or water. If you have ever had hepatitis A, you can donate blood, but you will need to delay doing so if you have active signs of hepatitis. Your donation will be accepted after you have fully recovered.
  • Hepatitis E has the same routes of infection and outcomes as hepatitis A. Hepatitis E is not screened in the United States. If you have had hepatitis E In the past, you can donate blood. You cannot donate blood if you have signs of active hepatitis E.

You can donate blood if you have had non-viral hepatitis from toxic exposure, drug reaction, or alcohol use as long as you don't have symptoms of hepatitis at the time of the donation.

Who Can't Donate

Hepatitis B and hepatitis C outright rule you out as a blood donor. If you have ever had either of these, your donation will be rejected—whether you had symptoms or not.

Hepatitis B and hepatitis C are bloodborne viruses that are highly communicable.

Although direct-acting antivirals first introduced in 2007 have achieved high levels of cure rates in people with hepatitis C, people who have been infected still cannot be blood donors whether they have been cured or not.

Hepatitis D only occurs in people who are infected with hepatitis B because it is an "incomplete virus." Because of this, it is not necessary to screen the blood supply in the United States. If you have hepatitis D, this means that you have hepatitis B as well and therefore you are not allowed to be a blood donor.

Other Restrictions

Because viral hepatitis is highly contagious, health authorities have placed the following restrictions on people who may have been exposed to hepatitis B or C.

Among them:

  • If you live with someone or have had sex with someone who has hepatitis, you must wait 12 months after the last contact before you can donate.
  • Before donating blood, you must wait 3 months after receiving a blood transfusion (unless it was your own autologous blood), experiencing a non-sterile needle stick, or exposure to someone else's blood.  

Blood Screening in the United States

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), through the Center for Biologics and Research (CBER), is responsible for ensuring the safety of the roughly 11 million units of whole blood donated in the United States each year.

To keep the blood supply safe, the FDA has established regulations to screen donors before a donation and to screen donated blood after it has been received by blood banks. To help with this, a questionnaire is given to donors to collect information about their medical history and any risk factors that may exclude them from donating.

Blood received from donors then undergoes routine screening for the following blood-transmitted infections:

Any donated blood is quarantined until it is tested and shown to be free of infection.

Due to advanced blood screening practices, the risk of the accidental transmission of hepatitis B and C from contaminated blood is rare.

Hesitations Toward Blood Donation

Although 37% of the U.S. population is eligible to donate blood, less than 5% do so annually, according to a 2012 study published in the journal Transfusion. Among the commonly cited reasons why people avoid donating is the presumption that they are "medically disqualified" to donate.

Many of these attitudes stem back to the 1970s and 1980s when reports of infection among hemophiliacs given tainted blood fueled fears among donors and recipients alike.

Although doubts about the safety of the U.S. blood supply have largely subsided due to advances in blood screening, there are some who avoid donating because it may reveal that they have an infection like HIV or hepatitis.

If you think you might have hepatitis—either due to the presence of symptoms or because of a known exposure—but are fearful of donating because it may confirm your concern, know that the sooner hepatitis is identified, the sooner you can access treatment that can keep you well and healthy for many years.

How and Where to Donate

The need for blood donation is critical and ongoing. From the time of donation, blood can be stored in a refrigerator for only 42 days. Moreover, blood centers typically run out of type O (which is the universal donor type), placing patients at risk during public health emergencies.

If you are at least 16 years of age in most states, are in good health, and weigh at least 110 pounds, you are eligible to be considered as a blood donor. You can find where to donate blood near you by accessing the American Red Cross website.

From start to finish, the blood donation process takes around an hour, including 10 minutes to draw one pint of blood.

  • Get a good night's rest the day before the donation

  • Eat a healthy, iron-rich meal before a donation

  • Drink plenty of fluids the day before and the day of the donation

  • Have a snack and fluids immediately afterward

  • Rest for 24 hours after donation

  • Bring a friend to donate with you or to drive you home if needed

  • Donate if you are not feeling well

  • Donate on an empty stomach

  • Drink caffeine before giving blood, as it may cause dehydration

  • Smoke one hour before or one hour after a blood donation

  • Take aspirin two days before donating platelets, as this may interfere with clotting

  • Exercise for 24 hours after giving blood

10 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. American Red Cross. Eligibility Criteria: Alphabetical.

  2. American Red Cross. Blood Needs & Blood Supply.

  3. Melgaço JG, Gardinali NR, De Mello VDM, Leal M, Lewis-Ximenez LL, Pinto MA. Hepatitis E: Update on prevention and controlBiomed Res Int. 2018;2018:5769201. doi:10.1155/2018/5769201

  4. Pfaender S, von Hahn T, Steinmann J, Ciesek S, Steinmann E. Prevention strategies for blood-borne viruses-in the era of vaccines, direct acting antivirals and antiretroviral therapyRev Med Virol. 2016;26(5):330-9. doi:10.1002/rmv.1890

  5. Dastgerdi ES, Herbers U, Tacke F. Molecular and clinical aspects of hepatitis D virus infectionsWorld J Virol. 2012;1(3):71-8. doi:10.5501/wjv.v1.i3.71

  6. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Have you given blood lately?.

  7. Engle RE, Bukh J, Alter HJ, et al. Transfusion-associated hepatitis before the screening of blood for hepatitis risk factors. Transfusion. 2014;54(11):2833-41. doi:10.1111/trf.12682

  8. Custer B, Schlumpf K, Simon TL, et al. Demographics of successful, unsuccessful and deferral visits at six blood centers over a 4-year period. Transfusion. 2012;52(4):712-21. doi:10.1111/j.1537-2995.2011.03353.x

  9. Shaz BH, Hillyer CD. Minority donation in the United States: challenges and needs. Curr Opin Hematol. 2010;17(6):544-9. doi:10.1097/MOH.0b013e32833e5ac7

  10. Alter HJ, Klein HG. The hazards of blood transfusion in historical perspective. Blood. 2008;112(7):2617-26. doi:10.1182/blood-2008-07-077370

By Charles Daniel
 Charles Daniel, MPH, CHES is an infectious disease epidemiologist, specializing in hepatitis.