The American Red Cross and the AABB both advocate changing the U.S. policy on donations by gay men to a one-year ban -- on par with donation policies for other high-risk groups.
But Cohen wants to go further, advocating an "assess and test" approach, in which restrictions are placed on potential blood donors based on their personal sexual practices.
Italy adopted such an approach in 2001, and "Italian data suggests there's no disproportionate increase in the number of HIV-positive donors getting into the blood supply," he said.
The AABB does not support that approach at this time, although even a one-year ban amounts to a requirement that gay men abstain from sex to be eligible to donate, Kleinman said.
"We're not requiring anyone else to be abstinent from their sexual partners of choice," he said, noting that lesbians can donate freely. "But we still find that the risk factor that accounts for the greatest proportion of cases are males who have sex with other males. That's an epidemiological fact at this point."
For more on the U.S. policy on blood donations from gay men, visit the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
SOURCES: Glenn Cohen, J.D., director, Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology & Bioethics, Harvard Law School, Cambridge, Mass.; Steven Kleinman, M.D., senior medical advisor, AABB; Jennifer Rodriguez, spokeswoman, U.S. Food and Drug Administration; July 23, 2014, Journal of the American Medical Association
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