IPFA/PEI 23rd International Workshop on Surveillance and Screening of Blood Borne Pathogens

Predicting Future Risks and rationalising Blood Safety Strategies

The annual IPFA/PEI International Workshop was held in Lisbon, Portugal on 25 and 26 May 2016, bringing together international experts with an interest and responsibility for maintaining a safe and secure supply of transfusion products for patient care in all regions of the world. We are aware, from previous meetings, that delegates attend this meeting to consider and debate strategies for the management of known microbiological risks in the blood supply but also to gain an insight into new and emerging risks which may impact transfusion product safety. Feedback from delegates and participants indicates that this year’s meeting met this objective.

A truly international Event

The meeting this year was attended by 250 delegates from more than 100 organisations in 35 countries. It was gratifying to see so many of our regular attendees but also to welcome many new delegates from organisations throughout the world. Once again, therefore, the meeting was a truly international event which we hope maintained its tradition of promoting scientific discussion and engaging debate in an atmosphere of cooperation and common purpose.

We are grateful to our host Dr Gracinda de Sousa and her colleagues from the Portuguese Institute for Blood and Transplantation for hosting the meeting and for providing such a comprehensive and informative overview of transfusion activities in Portugal.

Managing Current Risks and Anticipating Future Challenges

Professor Pierre Tiberghien (Etablissement Francais du Sang) opened the meeting with a comprehensive, insightful and provocative key note presentation on the challenging topic of “Anticipating (re)emerging infections to ensure blood safety” – perfectly setting the scene for two days of detailed science, debate – and education!

Specific subjects addressed during the Workshop included:

  • Phylogeny of established blood-borne viruses – its role in establishing causal relationships between donor and patient infections – including a well received educational theme for non experts!
  • Arbovirus Transfusion Transmission – before and after the current Zikv epidemic – providing an essential update of the epidemiology, pathogenicity of arbovirus diseases, their relevance for transfusion safety and strategies for their regulation and management by blood establishments.
  • Understanding residual viral transmission risk for established blood-borne viruses – outlining guidelines and new approaches to risk assessment and the impact of changing donor demographics in a high HIV endemic region.
    Screening strategies for HBV – including an overview of global HBV epidemiology and consideration of the value and effectiveness of HBsAg screening.
  • Update on HEV prevalence, its relevance to the safety of blood components and plasma products and consideration of future safety interventions.
  • Update, impact and implications of MSM donor policy changes around the world.
  • Alternative blood safety strategies to address residual bacterial, virus and malaria/babesia risks of transfusion and approaches for the evaluation of the effectiveness of current and future interventions. Industry perspectives and strategies to meet current and future challenges for a safe and secure blood supply.

Thanks and Appreciation

Once again the organisers are indebted to all who contributed to this Workshop and in particular to speakers and chairpersons who gave much care and thought to ensure that the formal sessions were relevant, informative and provocative – their success in achieving this is clearly evident from both the formal and informal feedback we have received.

As always we are also grateful for the support and contributions from our commercial sponsors without which this meeting would not be possible.

IPFA/PEI 2017 Workshop – Zagreb, Croatia

As announced at the Workshop we will be returning to Zagreb, Croatia for our 24th IPFA/PEI International Workshop in 2017. Planning for this meeting has already begun and we look forward to welcoming you there – and to continue our discussions!

Dr Paul Strengers, President IPFA
Dr Michael Chudy, Acting Head Molecular Virology PEI