Blood ban: USA follows UK lead

The United States’ Food & Drug Administration announced today that it is to lift the ban on bisexual and gay men donating blood in the USA.

The move follows a similar rule change in Britain in 2011. As here the shift is from a lifetime ban for any man who has had sex with another man, to a 12 month bar ruling out donation within a year after the last such sexual encounter.

The ban was enacted in 1983 at the start of HIV & AIDS awareness, and understanding of HIV and testing has moved on a long way in the intervening 31 years.

The Williams Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles, has suggested that the policy change could lead to an increase of 2 percent to 4 percent in the blood supply in the USA.  Around twice as many men are reckoned by the Institute to have ever had sex with another man as the number who have done so within the past 12 months, so this rolls back the ban from around half the potential donors who were affected.