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‘MSM Deferral’: The Complicated Story (History) of Gay Blood Donation - An Honest Conversation Between the Transfusion Medicine and LGBTQ+ Communities

Christy Yates
Northwestern Medicine, Director of Laboratory  Operations

Erin Westby (Moderator)
University Blood Initiative, Director of Education 

Jason Cianciotto
GMHC, VP of Communications and Policy 


On November 15, 2022, UBI partnered with Howard Law School’s Chapter of the American Constitution Society and OUTLaw  to present a ground-breaking round table discussion on the history and policies surrounding the deferral of men who have had sex with men from donating blood: MSM Deferral. 


This was the first time that leaders from the LGBTQ+ and transfusion medicine communities have come together to openly discuss this topic. 














  • Spur honest dialogue between both sides 

  • Shed new light on the challenges faced by different groups that might otherwise wish to donate blood

  • Help future civic servants combat discrimination and support a robust blood supply in their practice as attorneys 





  • Almost 200 individuals from across North America 

  • Jason Cianciotto (GMHC), the leading advocate on repealing the MSM Deferral noted: 'I have read and seen your quotes and your work [referring to Dr. Gammon, Dr. Custer , and Dr. West-Mitchell] . So its truly exciting actually to see and amazing to meet you and be able to do this.'

  • Both sides debated their perspectives passionately but with respect

  • Intense audience enthusiasm has prompted the planning of future panels 

  • UBI and Howard law members are planning a blood drive to raise awareness for the MSM Deferral with Children's National (sign up to be notified here).

Christian Carrier
Pritzker School of Medicine, MSM Deferral Advocate

Dr. Brian Custer
Versiti Research Institute, Director

 Primary Investigator of the ADVANCE Study

Dr. Richard Gammon
OneBlood, Medical Director , Former Chair of AABB Blood Banks/ Transfusion Standards Committee 

Dr. Kamille West-Mitchell
NIH Clinical Center, Chief of Blood Services Section

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