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Transfusion. 2013 Nov;53(11):2729-33. doi: 10.1111/trf.12124. Epub 2013 Feb 26.

If the permanent deferral were lifted would men who have sex with men want to donate blood, and if so, who would be eligible?

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San Jose State University, San Jose, California; Stanford Blood Center, Palo Alto, California; HIV Epidemiology Section, San Francisco Department of Public Health, San Francisco, California; Epidemiology and Biostatistics and Laboratory Medicine, University of California at San Francisco, San Francisco, California; Blood Systems Research Institute, San Francisco, California.



The deferral of men who have sex with men (MSM) from blood donation is controversial worldwide, with national policies varying from no explicit deferral to permanent deferral. This study assesses whether MSM have donated and would be interested in donating if the US exclusion policy were removed and who would be eligible to donate if the policy were modified to a temporary or lower-risk deferral criterion.


Questions about previous blood donation and interest in future donation were added to the National HIV Behavioral Surveillance survey questionnaire, which periodically gathers risk behavior information from MSM in San Francisco.


Overall, 77.3% of 475 MSM respondents expressed interest in donating. By lower-risk criteria, 10.1% had no sexual contact in the past 6 months (2.3% in the past 12 months) and 1.9% had only lower-risk sexual contact in the past 6 months (1.5% in the past 12 months). Of the 23.4% who answered yes to having donated in the past, at least 25.2% did not comply with the current deferral of no male-male sex since 1977.


The majority of MSM are interested in donating blood. Depending on how the policy would be changed (i.e., either a temporary or a behavior-based deferral criterion), substantial numbers of MSM would be eligible.

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