Abstract

Background - Restrictions previously limiting the ability of men who have sex with men to donate blood are being eased in a number of nations worldwide. In the context of these changes, it is important to determine public perceptions of receiving a transfusion of blood donated by men who have sex with men.
Materials and methods - In online surveys, 510 (Study 1) and 1,062 (Study 2) heterosexual participants reported attitudes, anxiety, disgust, and gratitude towards potentially receiving a transfusion of blood donated by a homosexual male donor and a heterosexual male donor. In Study 2, half of the participants were reminded of the safety testing carried out on donated blood samples. Negative attitudes, anxiety, disgust, and gratitude were compared between the two donors using t-tests and within-participants indirect effects analysis.
Results - Stronger negative attitudes, higher anxiety and disgust, and lower gratitude were reported in relation to a potential transfusion of blood donated by the homosexual male donor relative to the heterosexual male donor (|d|=0.26-0.46). This was the case even when participants were reminded of the safety testing completed on donated blood samples in Study 2. In both studies, the effect of donor sexual orientation on attitudes was explained via heightened anxiety and disgust and attenuated gratitude (b=0.05-0.30).
Discussion - Considering receiving a transfusion of blood donated by a homosexual male donor elicits more negative attitudes, anxiety and disgust, and less positive emotion, relative to blood donated by a heterosexual male donor. These attitudes and emotional reactions are not shifted by a reminder of the safety testing carried out on donated blood samples. In the context of changing restrictions on blood donation by men who have sex with men, these findings highlight a challenge to shift public perception to embrace this cohort of donors.

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Authors

Lisa A. Williams - School of Psychology, UNSW Sydney, Sydney, Australia https://orcid.org/0000-0002-0021-5613

Kate Nicholls - School of Psychology, UNSW Sydney, Sydney, Australia https://orcid.org/0000-0003-2983-4415

James R. W. Williams - School of Psychology, UNSW Sydney, Sydney, Australia

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