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Perceived risk of HIV transmission by blood transfusion among gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (gbMSM) in Australia

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posted on 2023-11-27, 04:54 authored by Luke GahanLuke Gahan, CR Seed, MA Hammoud, Garrett PrestageGarrett Prestage, VC Hoad, JM Kaldor
Background: In Australia, men who have sex with men (MSM) are deferred from blood donation for 3 months from last sexual contact. Internationally, deferral policies for MSM are evolving in the direction of expanded inclusivity in response to community expectations. To inform future policy options, we assessed perceptions of the risk of HIV transmission from blood transfusion among Australian MSM. Study Design and Methods: Flux is an online prospective cohort of Australian gay and bisexual men (cis or trans, regardless of their sexual history) and other men who have had sex with men (gbMSM). We included questions on blood donation rules, window period (WP) duration, infectivity of blood from people with HIV on treatment and attitudes to more detailed questioning of sexual practices in the regular survey of Flux participants and conducted a descriptive analysis of responses. Results: Of 716 Flux participants in 2019, 703 responded to the blood donation questions. The mean age was 43.7 years (SD 13.6 years). Overall, 74% were willing to confidentially respond to specific sexual behavior questions, such as the last time they had sex and the type of sex they had, in order to be considered eligible to donate blood. The majority (92%) of participants correctly assessed the duration of the WP as less than 1 month. When asked whether transfusion of blood from a donor with HIV and an undetectable viral load could transmit HIV, just under half (48%) correctly said yes. Conclusion: Our study suggests Australian gbMSM are generally comfortable with answering more detailed questions regarding sexual activity during the assessment to donate, indicating they would do so honestly. gbMSM are knowledgeable about the WP duration, important for their ability to correctly self-assess their HIV risk. However, half of participants incorrectly assessed the transmissibility by blood transfusion from an HIV positive person with an undetectable viral load, suggesting the need for a targeted education campaign.


Australian Government; Australian Research Council, Grant/Award Number: RG132750; National Health and Medical Research Council, Grant/Award Number: RG192651.


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(p. 1528-1537)





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© 2023 The Authors. Transfusion published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of AABB. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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