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Investigating blood donation practices among people who inject drugs

In Australia, potential blood donors are ‘deferred’ permanently if they report a history of injecting drug use (IDU).

This is due to IDU being a key transmission route of various transfusion-transmissible infections, particularly hepatitis C.

A review of the appropriateness of this policy was conducted by Burnet Institute in collaboration with the Australian Red Cross Blood Service.

One key finding was that more research needs to be conducted to address various knowledge gaps – including on the prevalence of blood donation practices among people who inject drugs – before any changes can be made to the current IDU-related blood donation criteria.

Burnet Institute collected such data from PWID in Victoria and across Australia throughout 2015.

This project was the first of its kind in Australia. Findings were and still are vital for informing any potential changes to the Blood Service’s IDU-related guidelines.

The study also informed targeted education of PWID about blood donation.


This project involved analysis of quantitative data collected during 2015 from the Illicit Drug Reporting System (IDRS), an annual, national cross-sectional survey of PWID in Australia, in addition to data from the Melbourne Injecting Cohort Study (MIX), a prospective cohort study running since 2008 with over 700 PWID as participants.

Findings provided an indication of the prevalence of lifetime blood donation practices among Australian PWID and the characteristics of those who report doing so.

A commitment to working with marginalised and vulnerable populations were an advantage.

Paul Dietze Headshot 210X210

Professor Paul Dietze

Please contact Professor Paul Dietze for more information about this project.


Partners +

  • Australian Red Cross Blood Service