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