Sex, risk, and education in donor educational materials: Review and critique

M. Ariel Cascio, Roslyn Yomtovian

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Food and Drug Administration guidelines prohibit men who have sex with men (MSM) from donating blood to prevent the spread of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV/AIDS). Although the deferral criteria leave "sex" undefined, donor educational materials distributed before the health questionnaire often offer a definition. This study analyzes educational materials for their contribution to the donation process and construction of HIV/AIDS. It applies a discourse analysis approach to a sample (n = 52) of such materials obtained in summer 2009 from blood collection organizations listed in the AABB (now referred to as "Advancing Transfusion and Cellular Therapies Worldwide") Directory of Community Blood Centers and Hospital Blood Banks [AABB. Directory of Community Blood Centers and Hospital Blood Banks. Bethesda, MD: AABB; 2009]. It finds that when materials define sex, the definition is "vaginal, oral, or anal sex whether or not a condom or other protection was used," and when materials define HIV/AIDS risk behaviors, the definition is, with few exceptions, "sexual contact with an infected person or by sharing needles or syringes used for injecting drugs." Widespread use of these definitions demonstrates the influence of "Making Your Blood Donation Safe." Through analysis of this document and variations upon it, this research finds that the category MSM therefore provides one component of the construction of HIV/AIDS as the providence of MSM, together with heterosexual Africans and other risk populations, conflating group membership with individual risk. Deferring MSM therefore fails as a behavior-based deferral because it collapses multiple sexual behaviors with varying risks into a single risk category. It constructs all MSM as HIV positive and implicitly constructs non-MSM as risk-free.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)50-55
Number of pages6
JournalTransfusion Medicine Reviews
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2013


Dive into the research topics of 'Sex, risk, and education in donor educational materials: Review and critique'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this