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Advisers likely to recommend lifting U.S. ban on blood donations by gay men

A panel that advises the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is expected to recommend a modification to the policy that bans gay and bisexual men from donating blood.

The American Red Cross says that the risk of getting AIDS from blood transfusions is minuscule, but since 1983, men who have had sex with men anytime after 1977 have not been able to donate blood in the United States. In Canada, Australia, and the U.K., men who have had sex with men have to wait one to five years after their last encounter, and Debra Kessler, director of special donor services at the new York Blood Center, told Bloomberg the U.S. is likely to adopt a one-year deferral.

The Food and Drug Administration's website says that each unit of donated blood is tested, and the risk of getting HIV from a blood transfusion is about one per 2 million units of blood transferred. A UCLA study found if the ban was lifted and there was only a one-year deferral, around 185,800 more men would be able to donate 317,000 pints of blood in a year.