Gay Men Still Can't Donate Blood


Donating BloodLast week, The Federal Advisory Committee on Blood Safety and Availability voted against lifting a ban that prohibits gay men from donating blood.

Did you even know there was such a ban? I didn't, and I was shocked to find out there is one.

If a man has had sex with a man, even once, since 1977, the FDA prohibits him from donating blood. According to CNN, the ban has been in place since the 1980s when there weren't blood tests to screen for HIV.  

But now there are, so what's the problem? We need blood, not all gay men have HIV, and we can check to make sure they (just like anyone else) don't, right?

One study says that more than 200,000 pints of blood would be available if the ban was lifted.

The American Red Cross said while they have to follow the rules set by the FDA, they "also strongly support the use of rational, scientifically based deferral periods that are applied fairly and consistently among donors who engage in similar risk activities."

The committee did say the current system is "suboptimal" and made recommendations to improve it through a series of studies. Meanwhile, the ban remains.

What do you think of the ban on gay men donating blood?

Image via makelessnoise/Flickr

general health, in the news


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LoriA... LoriAnn87

I think it's stuipd and should be lifted because no matter if you gay or not you should be able to give blood.

jeann... jeannesager

This has made me angry for years, and knowing it remains this way enrages me still more.

nonmember avatar Brandon

As a gay man, I find this absolutely ridiculous.  Also as a gay man, I have discovered there are many men who lie about having sex with other men.  Say Joe Schmoe is married, but has sex with another man - and then with his wife.  He can still donate blood by saying that he has never had sex with another man - because it was kept a secret - so not only is HE passing on the same possible diseases he got from the other man, but so is his wife.

So really, nothing is being prevented here.  Plus, it's not as though it's impossible - oreven uncommon in some areas - for women or straight men to contract HIV.  So why is ANYONE allowed to give blood?

lovin... lovinangels

who do I call or write?

nonmember avatar Midwest643

It's the correct decision.  Unless you understand the science as well as the doctors do, you'd better leave the science to them, and trust them to do their jobs to protect our safety.  They obviously have some serious concerns, and the CNN article didn't explain that very well.

I'm glad that these docs aren't controlled by their emotions, and stick to the logic of science.    After all, the HIV virus doesn't care whether you are happy or not about this decision; it just wants to gets into your blood.

nonmember avatar Hunter

This is stupid this goes along with gay rights I've donated blood and they test for stuff be4 its sent to the blood bank they can test it 4 what ever their worried about who ever made this banned is a homophobic ass hole so back off and leave gay men alone

Lokis... LokisMama

I can understand 20 years ago when there was no real accurate test for HIV, but it really has no place.

And actually as a woman, you can be banned from giving blood too if you've ever had sex with a bi-sexual man who's slept with another man.

This is stupid.  It's just a leftover from when our HIV/AIDS testing was still in its infancy. 

nonmember avatar CharlieJ

This is yet another example of gay activism throwing OUR rights to the wind because they want to force their lifestyle choice on EVERY aspect of society -- to Hell with the consequences.

Lifting the ban would NOT make more blood available. It would actually decrease the blood available because the verbal/written screening process would become moot and EVERY single pint of blood would have to be more thoroughly screened - thus increasing the time it would take to get good blood to the market AND increasing the cost of testing (and the cost of receiving) blood.

It's a ridiculous notion that we should allow blood from a portion of society that has been proven to have a much higher incidence of STDs... and are the cause for HIV/AIDS.

If people who choose that lifestyle want to be more productive members of society and give to their fellow man, let them donate money and volunteer. But, they can keep the their blood. My rights are such that I don't have to accept potentially dangerous blood in an emergency.

The FDA made the right choice.

lovin... lovinangels

The laws are outdated, and not keeping up with technology. It's ridiculous. Not everyone is honest about their sexual relations, with their PARTNERS, therefore, it's EXTREMELY LIKELY that a bi sexual male slept with a straight female and didn't inform her. Therefore ALL blood is run through THE SAME RIGOROUS testing, regardless of the answers you provide, and regardless of how many times you've provided it.


nonmember avatar Krista

The ban is not on gay men, but men that have sex with other men, I know it's subtle, but it's not a ban based on sexual orientation, but on sexual practices. Although I agree it's somewhat outdated, it does have some statistical merit, vanishingly small as it is. All blood is screened for hepatitis and HIV amongst other diseases, regardless of how the questions on the application are answered: the catch is, the HIV screening test is only 99% effective. This is why people with higher risk practices are excluded.


Why are men who have sex with men at higher risk of contracting HIV you ask? Because the rate of HIV transmission with anal intercourse is as high as 1/10 (same goes with heterosexual couples that have anal sex, so really, they should also be excluded from donating based on this criteria). With heterosexual vaginal intercourse it's a much lower male to female transmission rate (1/200 perhaps, although I'm not 100% certain), and female to male transmission of HIV is even lower (1/600? or lower).

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