The United States blood donor exclusion policy for men who have had sex with men (MSM) was drafted in the early 1980’s when there was no testing available to detect HIV. On March 9, 2006, the AABB (formerly known as the American Association of Blood Banks), the American Red Cross, and America’s Blood Centers (a trade organization representing independent U.S. blood centers) recommended modifying the MSM exclusion to 12 months to make the deferral consistent with high-risk heterosexual practices. The American Red Cross is obeying the law by adhering to the FDA-required permanent blood deferral for men who have had sex with men since 1977. The deferral of MSM is part of a multi-layered system designed to prevent transfusion-transmitted infection. Other methods include measures aimed at reducing unnecessary transfusions, minimizing exposures to multiple blood donors, donor selection and screening procedures (including the recruitment of volunteer rather than paid donors and deferring those individuals believed to be at increased risk of blood-borne infections from donating blood), laboratory testing, and the modification of blood units after collection.
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