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July 23/30, 2014

Reconsideration of the Lifetime Ban on Blood Donation by Men Who Have Sex With Men

Author Affiliations
  • 1Harvard Law School, Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • 2Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics, Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • 3Warren Alpert Medical School, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island
JAMA. 2014;312(4):337-338. doi:10.1001/jama.2014.8037

In 2013, the US Supreme Court took a historic step in United States v Windsor by striking down the Defense of Marriage Act on the grounds that it imposed a “disability on the class [of gay Americans] by refusing to acknowledge a status the State finds to be dignified and proper.”1 This milestone in gay rights stands in stark contrast to the ongoing lifetime ban imposed in 1983 on blood donation by men who have ever had sex with men (MSMs) even once.2 As it stands, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) continues to uphold this 30-year-old policy, unaltered, on the grounds that MSMs remain at increased risk of contracting transfusion-transmissible pathogens such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).2

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