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Friday, September 19, 2014

Letting Gay Men Donate Blood Would Increase Blood Supply by as Much as 4 Percent

Posted By on Fri, Sep 19, 2014 at 2:00 PM

click to enlarge This photo is as outdated as the law itself - FLICKR/ELGIN COUNTY ARCHIVES
A new report released today suggests that if men who have sex with men were allowed to donate blood, the annual blood supply in the U.S. would increase by 615,300 extra pints of blood every year.

The FDA currently enforces a ban on donations from gay and bisexual men, which it instituted in 1977. 
The report, released by from the Williams Institute, estimates that roughly 360,600 men would likely donate blood if they were allowed by the FDA, increasing the blood supply by 2 to 4 percent. 

In July, Supervisor Scott Wiener introduced a resolution that asks the city to support lifting the ban, and Mayor Ed Lee supported the resolution, calling the FDA's practices "discriminatory." 

Ayako Miyashita, one of the authors of the Williams Institute study, said in a statement, “The American Red Cross suggests that each blood donation has the potential to be used in life-saving procedures on three individuals. Our estimates suggest that lifting the blood donation ban among MSM [men who have sex with men] could be used to help save the lives of more than 1.8 million people." 

The report also calculated that 185,800 men would be able to donate if the FDA modified the ban to only exclude gay and bisexual men who had had sexual contact with other men within a year of their blood donation. If the ban was relaxed to this level, an estimated 317,000 additional pints of blood would be donated. 

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Kate Conger

Kate Conger has written for SF Weekly since 2011.

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