BACKGROUND: Several countries have changed, or are reevaluating, their blood donor policies for men who have had sex with men (MSM). Changing policies has consequences for donor recruitment and the donor pool. In this study, we investigated whether MSM are eligible and willing to donate blood.
STUDY DESIGN AND METHODS: Members of a research panel (n = 4422) in the Netherlands were invited to participate in an online survey. We asked questions about male-to-male sex and risk behavior that are also asked during the predonation screening of a blood donor. Furthermore, we asked questions about willingness to donate.
RESULTS: The total response rate was 60% (n = 2654). Of MSM nondonors (n = 230), 32.2% would be eligible to donate under a 12-month deferral policy, according to their reported risk history and last male-to-male sex. In other scenarios, 42.6% (4-month deferral), 38.7% (6-month deferral), and 18.7% (5-year deferral) would be eligible to donate. When not taking their last male-to-male sex into account (n = 203), 47.8% of MSM reported a moderate or high willingness to donate.
CONCLUSION: A 12-month deferral after last male-to-male sex is a commonly used criterion by blood services. Approximately one-third of the MSM in our study would be eligible to donate under this deferral policy. Higher proportions of MSM would be eligible to donate in shorter deferral scenarios. Almost half of MSM are willing to donate blood. Targeting MSM by donor recruitment campaigns could therefore prove fruitful.
- TRANSFUSION-TRANSMITTED HIV
- Middle Aged
- Blood Donors
- Homosexuality, Male
- Surveys and Questionnaires
- Health Policy