This report presents a review of the latest research into the blood donor screening policies that require men who have sex with men (MSM) to abstain for a certain period of time before they can donate.
Taken together, data from current studies support the argument that abstinence-based deferrals are no longer necessary to protect the safety of the blood supply.
The findings show that a policy of assessing every individual donor for the safety of their sexual activity, regardless of their gender or the gender of their sexual partner, would not compromise blood safety, would increase the blood supply and would be a major step in removing discrimination from blood donation.
Based on current research, one of the most equitable individual screening policies, without compromising safety, is the one recently adopted in the United Kingdom (see page 7).
Similar reformed blood donation policies are being seriously considered in other countries or are due to be introduced, such as in France, the Netherlands and Israel.
The empirical research on this topic and the history of policies in Australia and overseas are discussed further on in this report.
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