United States: Lifting a ban on blood donations from gay men would increase the amount of available blood by hundreds of thousands of liters each year and save more than a million lives, according to a university study in the United States.
The ban if lifted could net 291,145 liters of blood annually. Even allowing donations from gay men who had not had a sexual partner in a year could yield 150,000 liters, according to the study by the Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Law at the University of California, Los Angeles.
The US Federal Drug Administration has since 1983 banned gay men from donating blood for fear that HIV might be transmitted through transfusions.
“The American Red Cross suggests that each blood donation has the potential to be used in life-saving procedures on three individuals,” study co-author Ayako Miyashita was reported by Reuters as saying. “Our estimates suggest that lifting the blood donation ban… could be used to help save the lives of more than 1.8 million people.”
The American Medical Association, the American Red Cross and the American Association of Blood Banks in a recent statement has called the US ban “discriminatory” and “not based on sound science.”
However, a spokesperson for the US Federal Drug Administration said the agency does not plan to lift the ban until scientific evidence can show patients receiving blood transfusions cannot be at risk of being affected.
Many countries have some form of this sort of ban, China and Israel for example do not allow men who have sex with men to donate blood. Japan requires a one year abstinence period before a gay person can donate blood.
HIV has and continues to affect a disproportionate number of gay men.