Q: For a long time my husband and I participated in blood drives several times a year. Now he will no longer donate blood, and has warned me not to donate, because he is afraid of getting AIDS. I have told him that you cannot get AIDS from a blood donation, but he does not believe me.
A: You are right! You can not get AIDS from donating blood.
There is still a very small chance of contracting an AIDS infection from receiving a blood transfusion, but no risk in giving blood. Unfortunately, a recent nationwide survey found that one-quarter of the responders hold the erroneous belief that they can get AIDS from donating blood. One in five Marylanders who responded believed they could be infected by giving blood. (One in eight in Maryland mistakenly believed they could be infected with AIDS from an insect bite.) It is important to convince your husband and others of the safety of blood donations. Otherwise the shortage of blood supplies will grow even worse.
Dr. Margolis is professor of medicine and biological chemistry at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and associate dean for faculty affairs at the school.