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Lifting US gay blood donation ban could add 219,000 pints a year

Jessica Geen June 3, 2010

70,000 new donors are needed in France each year. (Getty Images)

Lifting America’s ban on gay and bisexual men donating blood could provide an extra 219,000 pints a year, a report says.

According to the Williams Institute for Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy at the UCLA School of Law, this increase would mean a of 1.4 per cent rise in the nation’s blood supply.

The report also estimates that organ donations could increase by 2.9 per cent annually, meaning around 900 additional transplants could take place each year.

Partially lifting the ban by restricting donation to men who have not had gay sex in the last year would provide an extra 90,000 pints of a blood a year.

Study co-author Naomi Goldberg said: “The impact of lifting the ban on these donors will have an even great impact on our health care system.

“Each pint of donated blood can be divided into three blood products, potentially helping up to three different patients.”

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is expected to hold hearings on the current ban on June 10th and 11th.

Currently, America bans any man who has sex with another man since 1977 from ever donating blood. According to the report, the 1986 policy affects nearly seven million men.

The reasoning is that they are more likely to catch HIV and although all blood is tested for diseases, there is a “window” between transmission and diagnosis where the virus cannot be picked up.

FDA regulations also prohibit men who have had sex with men in the past five years from donating organs, excluding nearly five million men.

The UK has similarly restrictive laws for gay and bisexual men who want to donate blood, although they are not barred from donating their organs.

A number of groups such as National AIDS Trust, Stonewall and the Anthony Nolan Trust have all previously supported the UK lifetime ban but are now against it, instead advising that time restrictions should be in place.

The government’s Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs is undertaking a review of whether the comprehensive ban should remain. It is expected to report back this year.

More: Americas

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