Could this be a scientific precedent to change the way we see HIV and blood donations?
According to the AIDSMAP, there has been zero increase in HIV infections since the US lifted the lifetime ban on gay and bisexual men donating blood. This information was shared by Dr. Eduard Grebe of non-profit transfusion medicine organization Vitalant at the Conference on Retroviruses and Opportunistic Infections on March 11.
During the announcement of his findings, which were given virtually due to coronavirus concerns, Dr. Grebe shared that researchers analyzed 60 percent of all blood donations in the United States both before and after the lifetime ban. The ban was lifted in 2015 and a new policy was instated that says gay and bisexual men can’t donate blood until after abstaining from sex with other men for 12 months.
But back to the study, it found that 15 months before the 2015 policy change, there were 2.6 cases of HIV among 1000,000 first-time blood donors. Meanwhile, there were only 2.9 cases per 100,000 donors 15 months after the ban. While there was a .3 increase in cases per 100,000 first-time donors, the research team insist that the margin is insignificant. According to Dr. Grebe, this study then means that there’s no evidence to prove that “the implementation of a 12-month MSM deferral policy resulted in increased HIV incidence in, and therefore transfusion transmission risk from, first-time blood donors in the United States.”
Keep in mind, the United States of America is still inefficient when it comes to the policy it has on the matter. While American men who have sex with other men have to wait a full year after their last sexual encounter, other nations like Denmark, Wales, and Canada have all lowered their deferral periods in the past few years to a few months’ worth of celibacy. With this new finding, will the U.S.A. join them?