Many countries including the United Kingdom and Brazil have a one-year deferral period, allowing MSMs to donate blood if they have not had intercourse with a new partner within that time. The United States lags behind other countries that have moved away from questions concerning sexual orientation or MSM contact during the donor screening process. Dr. Busch explains that South Africa and Italy base eligibility on the number of sexual partners in the period before donation. According to Dr. Custer, the Australian equivalent of the FDA is contemplating reducing the one-year deferral criterion for MSM individuals to six months due to technological advancements that have narrowed “the window” of detection.
The fact that the U.S. upholds a lifetime ban on MSM donation while Australian policy allows MSM individuals to donate a year or less after contact reveals a glaring discrepancy. Both ethics and science point to a flaw in FDA policy. That I could have had sex with 365 partners this year and be a perfectly fine candidate for donating blood, while the MSM next to me wouldn’t qualify, betrays a faulty line of logic.