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Calls Flood San Francisco Hospitals After AIDS Tests Urged

November 6, 1987

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ Recipients of blood transfusions and their relatives flooded Kaiser hospitals with calls after Kaiser officials urged AIDS testing for 30,000 people who received blood during an eight-year period.

Kaiser Permanente spokesman Dan Danzig said the company’s three area hospitals had received about 350 calls since Tuesday, when the San Francisco Chronicle reported that Kaiser would mail letters after the holidays saying it would supply free AIDS testing for blood recipients.

″People are looking for reassurance,″ Kaiser Health Plan spokeswoman Susan Pieper said earlier.

The three Kaiser facilities were among 43 hospitals in San Francisco, Marin, Sonoma and Napa counties who may have inadvertently given patients blood contaminated with the virus that can cause acquired immune deficiency syndrome.

At least one hospital, University of California-San Francisco Medical Center, has already mailed letters recommending testing and other facilities say they plan to do so.

The contaminated blood came from the Irwin Memorial Blood Bank, which sent a memo to Bay area hospitals in August saying one of every 100 units of its blood used from 1981 to 1983 could have contained the Human Immunodeficiency Virus, which causes AIDS.

Dr. Michael Bush of the Irwin blood bank said the proposal ″creates alarm,″ but added if it prevents spread of the infectious agent ″it is worth the effort.″

So far, 69 people are known to have contracted AIDS from Irwin blood, said Dr. Herbert Perkins, Irwin’s executive director. An additional 150 recipients who are infected with the virus but have no symptoms are known to health officials.

″We are asking people to wait until our notification letter before being tested, if they can,″ Pieper said. ″If they are concerned or anxious, they can be tested now.″

The University of California-San Francisco Medical Center recently sent letters to 17,331 patients who received blood during the period.

Marin General Hospital announced Wednesday it plans to send out letters within two months suggesting some ex-patients consider being tested for AIDS antibodies.

Ralph K. Davies Medical Center said it also would send letters to recipients of potentially tainted blood.

The national Centers for Disease Control estimates that nationally, at least 12,000 Americans have been infected by the AIDS virus from transfusions given before rigorous blood-screening programs were adopted that reduced the presence of the virus in blood supplies to less than one unit in 50,000.

Irwin adopted screening measures after 1983 to eliminate contaminated blood.

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