CHICAGO — Lifting the ban on blood donations from gay men would increase the amount of available blood by hundreds of thousands of pints each year and save more than a million lives per year, according to a study released last week reported on by the Chicago Tribune.
A ban that has prevented men who’ve had sex with another man anytime since 1977 from donating, which was implemented by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration in 1983 at the height of the AIDS crisis, has been a source of ongoing controversy as testing methods have improved dramatically.
The study found that eliminating the ban could bring in more than 600,000 pints of blood per year while allowing donations from gay men who had not had a sexual partner in a year could yield more than 300,000 pints, the study from the Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity found.
“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 told the Tribune. “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 study analyzed data collected in 2008, 2010 and 2012 through the General Social Survey, a national poll conducted by University of Chicago researchers, with a sampling error of plus or minus one percent. It also relied on data from the American Red Cross, the Tribune article notes.