The high prevalence of HIV in the southern African nation of Botswana has considerably reduced the amount of blood in the country’s blood banks, said the region’s Red Cross President Nomsa Mbere on June 14.

Botswana newspaper Mmegi (, 6/17) reports that, according to Mbere, HIV infections have reduced the number of donors while also increasing the amount of blood needed for transfusions. Mbere said the amount of blood used in HIV-related transfusions during the first quarter of 2008 equaled the amount used for all accidents and maternity cases during that time.

“The result is that some patients have had to go without much needed transfusion in the face of acute blood shortages,” she said.

Mbere encouraged people to let go of fears and misconceptions that may deter them from donating blood and said that donating blood has many personal and social benefits, and little health risk.