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Sep 20, 2014 05:05 AM EDT

Blood donations from gay men could result in more than 600,000 extra pints of blood every year, according to the study by the Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Law at the University of California, Los Angeles.

The FDA prohibits men who have had sex with men (MSM) since 1977 from donating blood. In recent years, both the United Kingdom and Canada have modified their laws shifting from an indefinite suspension of MSM to a suspension of 12 months and five years, respectively.

If the Food and Drug Administration ban on blood from MSM were to be completely removed, nearly additional 360,600 men are estimated to likely donate 615,300 additional pints of blood each year. The lifting of the ban would, therefore, increase the annual blood supply in the U.S. from 2 to 4 percent.

"The American Red Cross suggests that each blood donation has the potential to be used in life-saving procedures on three individuals. Our estimates suggest that lifting the blood donation ban among MSM could be used to help save the lives of more than 1.8 million people," said Researcher Ayako Miyashita in a statement.

The study, titled "UPDATE: Effects of Lifting Blood Donation Bans on Men Who Have Sex with Men", also found that if MSM who have not had sexual contact with another man in the past 12 months were allowed to donate, additional 185,800 men are likely to make a contribution of 317,000 additional pints of blood each year. If the time duration was five years, 172,000 more men would make an additional 293,400 blood donations.

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