Effects of Lifting Blood Donation Bans on Men Who Have Sex with Men; Naomi G. Goldberg & Gary J. Gates, The Williams Institute, UCLA School of Law (June 2010)

White Papers and Reports

This research brief projects the impact on the United States blood supply of lifting the lifetime ban on blood donation by men who have had sex with another man (MSM), even once, since 1977. The authors used population data from the General Social Survey, blood donation data from the American Red Cross, and Centers for Disease Control estimates of MSM with HIV who currently are excluded through pre-donation screening to determine approximately how many additional donations (from MSM) would likely occur if the ban was completely lifted, or revised to exclude those who had sex with another man a) within 5 years prior to the donation date, or 2) within 12 months prior to the donation date. The authors estimate that lifting the ban completely would increase the total national blood supply by 0.6% to 1.4%, an increase that is not insignificant in the context of common supply shortages. However, the authors do not appear to consider the impact of other possibly overlapping, current life-time donation exclusions based on having engaged in sex work or using a syringe to inject an illegal drug, even once, since 1977; or other conditions, such as hepatitis C, which frequently occur as co-infections with HIV and which also would exclude blood donation.