Introducing selective screening for Hepatitis B anti-core (anti-HBc) to reduce the risk of occult hepatitis B

25 May 2023

Since May 2022 NHSBT has been rolling out an additional test for hepatitis B following the recommendation of The Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs (SABTO), and a ministerial instruction. 

As well as our routine tests for hepatitis B, we will now also carry out an additional test, hepatitis B anti-core (anti-HBc), designed to determine whether a donor has had a previous Hepatitis B infection. This is being put in place to further enhance the safety of the blood supply by reducing the risk of occult hepatitis B. Currently these donors who have a confirmed positive test for anti-HBc are withdrawn from donation and will not be able to donate again. 

From the 22 May 2023 NHSBT will move to a selective screening strategy. All donations from new and returning donors will be tested, as well as donations from regular donors who do not have a negative anti-HBc result on their donor record.

The UK has one of the safest blood supplies in the world. We are committed to continually improving standards through regular reviews of the latest science, and epidemiology of viruses and diseases, and make changes where needed.

Dr Su Brailsford - Consultant in Epidemiology and Health Protection
Interim Clinical Director Microbiology and Public Health
Honorary Professor, University of Nottingham