Editorials

Blood donation in men who have sex with men

BMJ 2011; 343 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.d6040 (Published 26 September 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d6040
  1. Jay P Brooks, professor of pathology
  1. 1University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, San Antonio, TX 78229, USA
  1. brooksj{at}uthscsa.edu

The UK’s new policy of one year deferral needs a clear communication strategy

In the linked study (doi:10.1136/bmj.d5604), Grenfell and colleagues present the views and experiences of men who have sex with men (MSM) regarding the blood donation ban and proposed alternatives.1 The United Kingdom is changing the lifetime ban on men who have oral or anal penetrative sex with other men to a deferral period of one year from the last episode of penetrative sex. This change will take effect on 7 November 2011, which makes the implications of the study findings especially timely.

The first case of transfusion associated AIDS was reported in 1982. MSM had relatively high rates of infection, but blood collectors and regulators were slow to implement deferrals for fear of stigmatising gay men. This dilatory response has been characterised as a lamentable error of judgment.2 In 1985 the UK and the United States both implemented …

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