Blood Donation, Sexual Practices, and Self-Perceived Risk for HIV in the United States Among Young Adult Men Who Have Sex With Men

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Quantitative Health Sciences; Center for Health Policy and Research, Commonwealth Medicine

Publication Date


Document Type



Epidemiology | Gender and Sexuality | Health Services Administration | Health Services Research | Virus Diseases


OBJECTIVES: In the United States, all men who have sex with men (MSM) were banned from donating blood from 1985 through 2015. In 2016, the guideline was amended such that men who had sexual contact with other men within the previous 12 months could not donate blood. We aimed to identify blood donation practices and their relationship with HIV risk and testing among young adult MSM (YMSM) at risk for having HIV.

METHODS: In 2014, we recruited HIV-negative non-Hispanic black, Hispanic, and non-Hispanic white YMSM aged 18-24 from across the United States through social media platforms to complete an online survey. Among these YMSM who previously donated blood, we conducted a secondary analysis examining the relationship between having donated blood within the past 12 months and sexual risk behavior from recent condomless anal intercourse (CAI), HIV testing, and self-perceived risk of having an undiagnosed HIV infection.

RESULTS: Of the 2261 YMSM surveyed, 1104 (48.8%) had ever previously donated blood and 305 (13.5%) had donated blood within the past 12 months. Of the 305 blood donors, 50 (16.4%) had ever had CAI before their most recent blood donation. Among YMSM who donated blood, past-12-month blood donation was more likely among YMSM who never had CAI (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] = 1.84; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.24-2.73) than among YMSM who had CAI and more likely among YMSM who believed it was not possible at all that they had an undiagnosed HIV infection (aOR = 1.57; 95% CI, 1.14-2.16) than among YMSM who believed there was any possibility of having an undiagnosed HIV infection; it was not related to past-12-month HIV testing.

CONCLUSIONS: YMSM donated blood frequently, suggesting that the deferral process in place did not prevent YMSM from donating blood. The current donor screening process should be reconsidered if it is to prevent YMSM from donating blood. Future research could identify screening questions that permit YMSM with a low risk of HIV infection to donate blood while maintaining the safety of the blood supply.


HIV risk, MSM, blood donation, perceived HIV risk, young adult MSM

DOI of Published Version



Public Health Rep. 2019 Jan/Feb;134(1):36-46. doi: 10.1177/0033354918815182. Epub 2018 Dec 7. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Public health reports (Washington, D.C. : 1974)

PubMed ID


Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed