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Pan Afr Med J. 2017 Jun 8;27:99. doi: 10.11604/pamj.2017.27.99.12891. eCollection 2017.

The ban on blood donation on men who have sex with men: time to rethink and reassess an outdated policy.

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Medical School, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki, Greece.
Faculty of Medicine, University of Southampton, Southampton, United Kingdom.
Law School, Democritus University of Thrace (DUTH), Komotini, Greece.


During the 1980s the HIV/AIDS epidemic outbreak occurred. Due to the high prevalence of the disease on men who had sex with men (MSM) a lifetime ban on blood donations on men who had sex with men (MSM) was implemented. In the recent years, organizations like the European Union (EU) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have established new guidelines introducing the term of "risky sexual behavior" without any reference to the sex orientation of the potential donor, however many countries are hesitant to review the ban on men who had sex with men (MSM). Given the lack of screening methods for HIV back in the '80s the ban on men who had sex with men seemed like the only choice in order to limit the disease. However, nowadays the screening methods have advanced and the possibility of a transfusion related HIV infection is extremely low. Many countries, considering the new data available, have reformed their policies and moved from the lifetime ban to 5-year and 1-year deferrals but only a fraction of countries have adopted the guidelines for the "risky sexual behavior" assessment. The ban that forbid men who have sex with men from donating blood was implemented more than 30 years ago. During the '80s, the epidemiology was different and it seems not only hypocritical but also naïve to rely on guidelines that are far outdated and old-fashioned. The medical community has a duty to secure safe blood for every person who might need it, let us not waste safe potential donors and stigmatize them by focusing on outdated policies.


AIDS; HIV; blood banks; donation; homosexuality; risk assessment

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