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The impact of male-to-male sexual experience on risk profiles of blood donors.

  • Author(s): Sanchez, Ana M
  • Schreiber, George B
  • Nass, Catharie C
  • Glynn, Simone
  • Kessler, Debra
  • Hirschler, Nora
  • Fridey, Joy
  • Bethel, James
  • Murphy, Edward
  • Busch, Michael P
  • Retrovirus Epidemiology Donor Study
  • et al.


Men who have had sex with men (MSM) since 1977 are permanently deferred from donating blood. Excluding only men who engaged in male-to-male sex within either the prior 12 months or 5 years has been proposed. Little is known about infectious disease risks of MSM who donate blood.

Study design and methods

Weighted analyses of data from an anonymous mail survey of blood donors were conducted to examine the characteristics of men reporting male-to-male sex during specified time periods.


Of the 25,168 male respondents, 569 (2.4%) reported male-to-male sex, 280 (1.2%) since 1977. Compared to donors who did not report male-to-male sex, the prevalence of reactive screening test results was higher among donors who reported the practice within the past 5 years (< or =12 months odds ratio [OR] 5.3, 95% confidence interval [CI] 2.6-10.4; >12 months to 5 years, OR 7.1, 95% CI 1.2-41.7); however, no significant difference was found for donors who last practiced male-to-male sex more than 5 years ago (>5 years-after 1977, OR 1.4, 95% CI 0.7-2.6; 1977 or earlier, OR 1.6, 95% CI 0.7-3.7). The prevalence of unreported deferrable risks (UDRs) other than male-to-male sex was significantly higher for all donors who reported male-to-male sex with ORs ranging from 3.1 to 18.9 (p < or = 0.01).


No evidence was found to support changing current policy to permit donations from men who practiced male-to-male sex within the past 5 years. For donors with a more remote history of male-to-male sex, the findings were equivocal. A better understanding of the association between male-to-male sex and other UDRs appears needed.

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