Gay Men Cannot Donate Blood. What a Stupid Policy

QUEERTY IN-DEPTH — Last July, the the Senate and Congress both agreed to lift a ban on foreigners entering our border if they were HIV-positive. It was one giant step toward recognizing those with HIV should not be considered a “threat” by just walking around our great nation. But there is one realm where HIV-positive blood is a threat: blood donations. Organizations like the American Red Cross maintain our nation’s blood supply and work to keep it free from tainted blood, whether that’s HIV or any number of other blood-based viruses and cancers. Part of the Food and Drug Administration’s safeguard process, as many of you might know, is to issue an umbrella ban on donations from gay men — sorry, men who’ve had sex with other men, even once, since 1977. Because HIV transmission between gay men through anal intercourse ranks as a high risk activity — right up there with sharing needles, right? — the U.S. instituted the ban as an extra effort to keep infected blood out of circulation. But here we are in January, National Blood Month, and it’s time to take a damn hard look at this policy.

Like jury duty, donating blood is something I consider my civic duty. Unless you’ve got a valid medical reason precluding you, everyone should feel responsible for donating blood — not because of some law, but because you’re a human being with an innate debt to society.

I regularly lie to the Red Cross about my sexuality

And because I’m committed to donating blood, I regularly lie to the Red Cross about my sexuality.

That is, I do not mark the questionnaire box that asks whether I “have AIDS or have ever had a positive HIV test, or if you have done something that puts you at risk for becoming infected with HIV,” which includes any “male who has had sexual contact with another male, even once, since 1977.” (Those are FDA-mandated qualifiers to collect blood, instituted in 1983, the year I was born, when everyone was scared shitless about AIDS.)

It certainly helps that I don’t have HIV nor AIDS. I’ve been getting HIV tests (and all the other fun STD tests … I’m talking to you, Chlamydia!) since I’ve been sexually active. And, to get real personal here: My first trip to the doctor came about two weeks after I lost my virginity. (Hi, mom!) And I’ve never used drugs, especially the intravenous type. Which means the only time I’ve officially been prohibited from donating blood was after a trip to the Amazon River in Brazil, where the Red Cross’ fears of malaria possibly in my blood kept me from donating for about six months since the trip — and that was, I think, valid.

But somehow, being a normal adult who just happens to be sexually attracted to other men, I’m banned from performing my civic duty. And it stinks.

I’m certainly not the first one to raise this point, nor even the most recent. As Ronnie Polaneczky’s excellent Philly Daily News column reminds us, back in 2006, the FDA was attacked by “blood industry” brass to abandon the prohibition on gay men’s blood, because blood testing had become so robust — exposure to HIV can now be detected within 10 to 21 days — screening for the virus could be done in the lab. But the FDA refused, and kept the ban on the books.

My frustration with the “no gay men” policy is not even one of equal rights.

I make this case not because I’m being treated as a different class of citizen (which I am) or because I want the same ability to save others’ lives as anybody else (which I do). Rather, it’s because this policy is outdated, makes less and less sense as each day passes, and continues to stigmatize gay men as walking AIDS incubators. Every blood donation from every person is screened with the exact same testing method, which means once you’re in the lab, in makes no difference if the donor is male or female, black or white, gay or straight. If the blood is tainted, the tests will reveal it, and the donor will be added to a prohibited list. (Yes, if your blood is found to be HIV-positive, your name and social security number are added to an industry-wide ban list. Which makes sense, so long as federal privacy rules are followed.)

So let’s end this policy — not only because it’s homophobic, but because it’s eliminating 10 percent of the population who can donate clean, healthy blood that others need.

QUEERTY ASKS, YOU ANSWER: Are you aware of the policy that bans gay blood donations? If not, would you lie just to donate like I have? Or are you of the mindset, “If they don’t want my blood, they won’t get it”? Am I putting others at risk by refusing the mark the “had sex with men” box?

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  • ggreen

    When Elizabeth Dole was head of the American Red Cross she made sure it was filled with right-wingers and fundies. And the fundies are still in charge. ARC likes to charge poor people for blood that was donated by good Samaritans. Does anyone recall those millions of dollars donated to the Red Cross for Hurricane Katrina relief? Much of it was banked by the Red Cross and helped pay for staff salary increases instead of going to help NOLA victims.

  • kdh

    The FDA regulations make complete sense and that is undeniable. After studying that incredibly smart retrovirus, I can tell you we’re a long way from any conceivable cure, and the possibility of it mutating into an even more virulent strain that may not be as easily detectable is very real. If that ban were lifted, and a taint of the blood supply happened to occur, the backlash would put the movement (what a silly term) on the defensive, yet again, reigniting long-brewing distrust through a lack of understanding. The possibility of harm far outweighs any benefit to lifting the ban.

    The of the most bizarre misconceptions that Americans tend to have is that the medical profession knows everything. It doesn’t. Most of the time, your doctor is just guessing.

  • Colin

    Yes, i am aware of the ban. I have never donated because of this restriction. I am not willing to lie in order to donate blood. I would be more apt to donate if the regulation banning Gay men was lifted. I think it’s another unfair ‘ban’ which ostracizes gay men. Until we are equal with our straight counterparts, the blood bank will not have my precious donation. Thanks for writing this article as i’m sure it will help educate the masses.

  • Jason K

    The sad thing is, it doesn’t just stop at blood. Men “who have had sex with another man even once since 1977” are prohibited from donating sperm, organs, and any other bodily tissue. Sadly, we are unable to help save lives of others because of a stigma and outdated policies.

    I have not donated blood, only because I’m a government-stamped homosexual and have officially been blacklisted. But I would certainly not check the box otherwise.

  • SheQuon

    I too have long been bothered by this policy, but I would not go so far as to put a false answer on the form. Thus, I haven’t donated since I was in college, and people have missed out on gallons of my good A+ blood.

    The last time I did, I distinctly recall them giving you the opportunity choose one of two bar-code stickers reading “Use my blood.” or “Do not use my blood.” That way you could anonymously let the bloodbank know that you don’t meet all their requirements, but could not have acknowledged it on the form because you’ll still in the closet, or if you just don’t feel like telling a volunteer stranger who you’ve had sex with in the last 32 years.

    (To say nothing of other homophobic older male donors within earshot who are snickering about the sex question–as if no one would EVER come into THEIR church/school/community center who was gay.)

    The point is, it shouldn’t be up to ME to give THEM a heads up. They should be testing every pint that comes through as if it MIGHT be HIV+ so that they are absolutely sure it isn’t! Ridiculous is the right word for the current policy.

  • ask ena


    I have to disagree KDH. If anyone is aware of their HIV status these days, it’s gay men. Granted there is a rash of irresponsible behavior and backlash, but I’m not sure those guys are the ones volunteering to donate blood either. And while, presumably an HIV+ person would not knowingly donate their blood, if you were to survey 100 gay men volunteering to donate their blood to the red cross, along side of 100 heterosexuals, I bet you at least 75% of the gay men would identify themselves as HIV neg based on a recent HIV test (say, 6 mos. to a year). I would venture maybe 25% of the heterosexuals volunteering had even ever taken an HIV test, let alone a recent one.

    HIV’s biggest enemy is not gay men, it is ignorance. And I would venture to say that ignorance regarding HIV is more prevalent in heterosexuals than in gay men. Don’t you think?

  • Brendan D.

    There was a moment at the gay lobbying organization I worked for last year where ARC had been going around the building we share with dozens of other organizations, asking for donations to the blood drive. When they came into our office, we told the man that none of us were ALLOWED to donate, indicating the rather large Pride sign on the door. He looked sheepish and left. The upside that I’ve seen from talking to lower-level members and volunteers is that many of them also want to see the policy changed, as they’re not happy about missing out on an entire office full of willing donors just because we’re queer.

  • PearlsBeforeSwine

    @Jason K: More specifically, it applies to bone marrow. I know this because I was turned away when offering to donate to the bone marrow registry. I would imagine that someone who needed a bone marrow transplant would be more than willing to accept the possibility of a one in a million chance of a false negative test if it would save their life. By rejecting gay men from the registry, patients don’t even get a chance to make that choice.

    I find this galling, but reversing t his policy would not be one of my top priorities for an Obama administration.

  • Aaron

    Yes, I’m aware of the policy. No, I would not lie. However, I would not be putting anyone at risk if I were to donate blood. I’ve never even had so much as a cold sore and I’ve had sex with fewer people than my straight friends have. So, you, know makes total sense that I can’t donate blood.

  • jbw

    You know how you can tell this is outdated? Even the right wing red state folks say, “Really!? You can’t? That doesn’t seem right.”

  • Richagram

    Some universities are starting to boycott the Red Cross blood drives until they change the policy. Sarah Lawrence did it a few years ago (shocking, Sarah Lawrence, right?). I think if a bunch more universities started boycotting, the Red Cross would have to change the policy.

    One thing I hope is clear is that this is a contentious policy within the blood banks and maybe even the ARC. I used to donate all the time (until I lost the Vcard) and remained on the phone list for one New Jersey blood center for a while. One day they called and I said “I’d like to complain about this policy, please tell whomever that I would donate regularly but it is technically not allowed.

    I received a call back a few days later from one of the directors at the agency, who apologized and said explicitly that most blood banks advocate changing the policy all the time. He encouraged me to contact legislators, make some noise about it, etc. I really appreciated the response, and I think it’s a positive sign that this policy has the internal momentum to change, and I think it would be a great addition to all this surge of activism.

  • rcdc

    the issue the ARC SHOULD be concerned about, and needs to address through more targeted questions on their forms, is the other bogeyman of the blood world: hepatitis. the paranoia about the hep is almost as great as that for HIV. The thing is, hepatitis is a very real threat because it easily slips through the kinds of tests done by the ARC. with the rate and virulence of hepatitis sharply on the rise again among young gay men, this fight has gotten harder in the last few years. i think the key is to help the FDA and ARC draft a new set of regarding at-risk behaviors for hepatitis, particularly those that apply to everyone — not just gay men. “men who have sex with men” is an outdated category, and they need to use more specific, orientation-neutral criteria (i.e. oral-anal contact, unprotected sex, condom mishaps, etc) that would also help weed out problematic straight people. honestly, it would be a win-win

  • DaleM

    I am aware of the prohibition, and would not lie to donate blood. However, people should be aware that neither the American Red Cross, nor the other two largest blood banks in the US support the current policy. The blood banks seek a 12 month deferral. The road block is the FDA.

  • Jordan

    I donated blood up until I starting having sexual contact with other men. I feel bad lying to the red cross because I mean, well it’s a federal offense I believe. A few of my friends, however, do.

    Anyway, I wrote an article for an online magazine at my school two years ago addressing the subject, in which I interviewed the President of the American Red Cross. He was very cool about and said that a team of Red Cross people had done a ton of research and presented to the FDA that they thought the policy should be changed, but clearly the FDA didn’t have their minds changed. Because that was two years ago.

    This issue is vastly under-reported in the gay community and especially in mainstream media. Thank you for writing this! I hope someone else like Jezebel picks it up!!

    Anyway, the article I wrote is here:

  • Michael vdB

    I am aware of the same situation in Canada. Not sure if it also pertains to organs and such. I would not lie and even let them know I was monogamous but still got the same answer. They have those blood drive commercials on TV all the time to make people feel guilty but I find it just drives another knife into my back because I cannot donate. But if health care workers who may be HIV+ can still work in the field and straight people can do every sexual practice (except have anal sex), then gay men who are HIV- should be able to donate blood…simple as that.

  • Pragmatist

    This is a really tough issue, but I’m inclined to say I support the existing policy and even think it doesn’t go far enough.

    I fully acknowledge that it seems discriminatory and offensive to refuse “MSM” the opportunity to help save lives. And wasteful, in those cases where a perfectly healthy person would have been willing to contribute. But look at the importance — and sheer complexity — of ensuring that the country’s blood supplies are safe and pure. It’s a gargantuan task; there are so many diseases that are transferable via blood.

    Testing helps, but it’s not practical or possible to test every donation for every possible disease. And, even if it were, the combined error margins of the various tests mean that a non-trivial amount of risk persists despite rigorous testing.

    Statistically, men who have had sex with men are an incredibly unhealthy population. That’s devastating to admit, but ultimately true. It’s not just that we have a higher risk for HIV — we have a higher risk for every kind of STI, and even some rather exotic infections that aren’t traditionally thought of as STIs.

    Keeping in mind that testing is imperfect – and from the perspective of an agency setting health policy for an entire population – wouldn’t you consider excluding a high-risk subgroup from your donation pool? Even if some people lie to their screener, many won’t, and statistically, the donation pool will have fewer harmful specimens to filter out.

    Again, I fully concede that the policy seems much less sensible from the perspective of an individual donor. I, for example, haven’t had much sexual experience, have been tested, and feel confident that I don’t pose a risk. But I still think it’s right that I’m excluded, and I would not lie to the screener.

    This same problem permeates every area in which we try to minimize risk across a population. For example, we don’t let 12 year-olds drive motor vehicles. Yet, there are undoubtedly many 12 year-olds who would make safer drivers than other licensed adults on the road! The reason we’ve made this choice is that it’s impossible to achieve perfection via individual screening; a blanket policy that tends to reduce risk may outweigh the hardship it imposes on those who don’t meet the standard.

    In the case of blood donations, I believe the screening process probably does not go far enough. I think straight donors should be queried about the number of sexual partners they’ve had, for example. And I think they should be questioned about other “lifestyle factors” that are likely to identify unhealthier segments of the pool.

  • ask ena


    The current policy is akin to racial profiling. What you are describing is a more detailed policy that makes some sense…but if the right questions are asked, then they can be asked indiscriminately to all potential donors.

    If you really want to cut down the risk, then ban all single people from donating blood, as presumably, partnered people are, in general, less likely to be carrying something. That said, partnered people are probably less likely to disclose information which would make them a less desirable donor, so I still say…somebody has their head in the sand!

  • Atom Yades

    This policy is outdated, ineffective, and more than a bit homophobic. It’s true that gay men, in aggregate, represent a higher risk group for HIV/AIDS than the rest of the population. However, so are African Americans, heterosexual women, young people, and those with lower income and education levels. The FDA nonetheless refuses to impose a sweeping blood ban on any of these groups.

    And for good reason. While heterosexual black women are about twenty times more likely to contract HIV than heterosexual white women, it would obviously be unfair to turn away all black women who have had sex since 1977. Such a policy would correctly be seen as racist, just as the current ban on gay men is unfair and homophobic.

    Under the existing rules, gay men can only donate blood if they lie about their sexual orientation. This effectively becomes one more arena in which gays find themselves forced back into the closet. This policy, along with others (i.e. lack of employment non-discrimination, lack of equal-opportunity housing, continuation of DADT), enforces a culture of the closet in which gay men find themselves unable to lead public homosexual lives and therefore become more likely to engage in high risk sexual activities, like unprotected sex with anonymous partners. Gay men who are open and comfortable with their sexual orientation, on the other hand, are more likely to enter into monogamous relationships and to make decisions that decrease their risk of contracting HIV and other infections.

    The current policy therefore does not actually preclude all gay men from giving blood. On the contrary, it bans open gays while still allowing closeted gay men to donate, and this actually increases likelihood of receiving contaminated blood.

    The core idea of the FDA policy is a sound one, as it makes good sense to weed out potential contaminants from the blood supply, and this can still be accomplished by modifying the existing screening process. However, the current policy is anything but fair, as it discriminates based on a factor that is not inherently indicative of risk (i.e. sexual orientation) as opposed to factors that necessarily are (i.e. sexual behavior).

  • Ti

    We have to remember that the FDA and blood banks in general are incredibly conservative organizations. And not conservative in a fundamentalist CHristian sort of way but rather in a “if it aint’ broke don’t fix it way”. The first use of HIV tests was in blood banks. People would go to donate blood just to find out if they were positive. We all know there is a window when the antibody test is negative but the blood is infectious. That was the impetus to start anonymous testing in the 80s was to prevent the people in the window from donating.

    The policy worked and the blood supply became safer. When something works, it is very difficult to convince the FDA and blood banks to abandon it.

    I would ask that people remember this isn’t about who has better blood than whom. It is about keeping the blood supply safe. It may be time to change the policy in order to get make blood available. But let people do the science to find out if it safe to make the change.

  • rcdc

    atom – they actually are quite willing to go on similarly broad categories when it’s not race. anyone living in western and central europe for 5+ of the last 20-some years can’t give blood, nor can people who spent more than X amount of time in most of africa or south asia and east asia. this is to prevent BSE (an absurdly rare disease that scientist don’t even think can be transmitted through blood) and tropical diseases like malaria as well as HIV, respectively. after the transfusion scares of the 1980s, i think the FDA would rather risk a blood shortage than tainted blood, and if they thought they could get away with banning blood from black women under 35, they would.

  • ask ena


    “i think the FDA would rather risk a blood shortage than tainted blood, and if they thought they could get away with banning blood from black women under 35, they would.”

    Isn’t that the point? They can’t ban blood from black women under 35,so they won’t. So then why is an indiscriminate ban against gay men alright? There is absolutely no difference, except that once again, it is OK to discriminate against the gays, but not against anyone else.

    It’s these little, seemingly harmless acts of discrimination which lead to an overriding acceptance of negative stereotypes, which in turn creates an environment of acceptable bigotry. Someone needs to just say, “It’s never OK to discriminate.”

  • Zhuoqi

    @kdh: The policy doesn’t make sense. There is only a temporary ban for an individual who has knowingly had unprotected sex with an HIV positive individual — and that is objectively the most risky activity possible. The blanket prohibition on gay men’s donating blood smacks of nothing but prejudice in this context.

  • yarp

    :Yes, I’m aware of the policy. No, I would not lie. However, I would not be putting anyone at risk if I were to donate blood. I’ve never even had so much as a cold sore and I’ve had sex with fewer people than my straight friends have. So, you, know makes total sense that I can’t donate blood.”

    Interesting. Your straight pals had more sexual parteners than you, yet they can donate blood and you can’t. And you’re ok with that?

  • Rob

    @Atom Yades: Why are black people dragged into every argument about perceived slights against gay men?

  • Rachel

    It’s not just gay men that are banned! As a woman who’s had sex with men who have had sex with men, I am also permanently banned from giving blood, despite being in a nine year monogamous heteronormative relationship.

    Even men who have had unprotected sex with prostitutes can donate again if they haven’t done it in a year and test negative. It makes much more sense to block people based on risky behavior, rather than sexual orientation.

  • Craig

    My aunt works as a CEO for one of the Red Cross regions here in the midwest. It has been ingrained in me since I was a teenager about how important it is to donate blood. Because I know that importance, and no myself to be clean, I continually lie to the red cross and give blood. I once had someone call me back a couple weeks later, and I got very freaked out, and asked to make sure everything was fine.

    Blood donation is a necessity. If you have have been tested, and know…KNOW that you are clean, go donate. Please.

  • Dudous Migratorious

    Note to potential donors: Not all Red Cross chapters deal with blood. Our RC chapter is totally separate from the local Blood Bank.

  • Aaron

    @yarp: Not really. Especially considering I get tested every 6 months and my straight best friend, who’s banged twice as many chicks as I have dudes, hasn’t ever been tested. I can has logic now?kthanks!

  • Michael

    I donate blood when I have the opportunity to do so and lie on the form. I’ve accepted some forms of discrimination as symptoms of a power structure that will take a long time to dissolve, but I certainly will not have my right to help other people curtailed.

  • Jake H.

    ok guys, i don’t approve of this policy anymore than you do, but it is not a good idea to lie on those forms. if you get caught you can go to jail. allow me to repeat in all caps:


  • TikiHead

    I am getting PISSED that nobody else is seeing the plainly implied message in this policy, and I have been bleating this for YEARS now when it comes up — they are not really screening the blood donations!

    If they are making broad demographic proscriptions (like excluding homosexual men), that only makes sense if they’re not screening the blood anyways. My sources within Red Cross tell me it’s actually one in ten samples. One in ten!

    Everyone should be afraid to accept donated blood. No REAL effort is being made to screen out infected blood. They’re happiest with appearances.

  • Matt

    This policy is not only discriminatory; it ignores medical evidence. As I understand it, men having sex with men, per se, does not increase the likelihood of HIV transmission. What’s risky is anal intercourse, whether it’s between two men or between a man and a woman.

    Suppose a man has sex, but only oral sex, with other men. As far as we know, his risk of contracting HIV is quite low. By contrast, a woman who has vaginal sex with men has a relatively high risk. It’s particular sexual behaviors, not gay people, that are likely to result in contaminated blood and would be a reasonable basis for a ban.

  • Alfredo Munoz

    It was certainly shameful when a man with a beard remained the passive partner (pathikos) and it was even worse when a man allowed himself to be penetrated by another grown-up man. The Greeks even had a pejorative expression for these people, whom were called kinaidoi. They were the targets of ridicule by the other citizens, especially comedy writers. For example, Aristophanes (c.445-c.380) shows them dressed like women, with a bra, a wig and a gown, and calls them euryprôktoi, “wide arses”.

  • Karl Smith

    This policy is totally rude to say & lack any evidences as to say. STD can be transmitted by any type of sexual intercourse not by man to man sex only.

  • Jim Boyd

    Inserting politics into this dire healthcare issue is part and parcel of what is wrong with this debate. ‘I don’t care if I kill thousands with my tainted blood, I want to be RIGHT!!’

    Typical of the self-centered, narcissistic attitude that goes along with the sodomite ‘lifestyle.’


    Just on the off-chance there’s any point to replying to #37: no one is suggesting that anyone whose blood is actually “tainted” should donate. Deliberately spreading disease would be vile and despicable. But if the policy were both logically thought out AND solely for disease prevention, it would be changed. I mean, 1977? So if you last had sex in, say, 1990 and are negative now there’s still a chance you’ll turn positive from it?

    I’m more worried about organ donation. The blood supply runs low once in a while, but there are *never* enough spare organs to go around. I hadn’t heard that until now, but it puts an interesting perspective on losing virginity, possibly killing a complete stranger in the process if the FDA finds out and stops them from using your otherwise perfectly good lungs, liver, onions, etc.

  • Michael vdB

    Wow…just because I am self-centered and narcissistic, doesn’t mean I have tainted blood. I haven’t read anywhere where people said that if you have HIV or AIDS, you should be allowed to donate blood. Get a grip.

  • CPT_Doom

    @26Rob – because, sadly enough, the HIV epidemic has greatly changed since the 1980s, and it has largely become a disease of minorities, the poor and those with poor access to health care and safer sex messages. Even among the category of MSM (“men who have sex with men” – a category specifically created to account for those men who consider themselves straight but have sex with other men) men of color are dramatically more likely to be HIV positive. Fifty percent of all new HIV cases are in the African-American community. Yet, as has been pointed out, no one would ever support as broad a ban on racial grounds as currently exists on all gay men.

    And no one would support such a broad racial brand not only because it would violate the Constitutional principles on which this country was founded, but because it would also be scientifically wrong, because it would ban a correlative, not causative, characteristic. People of color are not getting HIV at higher rates because of their skin color, any more than MSM are getting HIV because they’re attracted to men. What increases risk for HIV is behavior and that can be screened for much more effectively.

    As has already been pointed out, you can participate in a meth-and-injected-heroine fueled orgy with 87 HIV female prostitutes, and can give blood 366 days later, but if you had one sexual encounter with a man – of any kind! (one wonders whether a hand job would count) – in 1977 and you are tainted for life? Where is there any scientific validity in that? The broad ban on MSM was instituted during the time when there was no test for HIV, nor any drugs to treat it. It is indefensible now.

    There is no reason you cannot screen for high-risk sexual behaviors, including multiple partners, and far more effectively prevent HIV transmission than the current broad ban. I know I, for one, lied repeatedly to the Red Cross during my closeted days, because to admit to having sex with another man, even on a form, would be admitting I was really gay and it wasn’t just a “phase.” Because I am so NOT promiscuous, however, I was always at low risk for HIV, and am negative to this day. Meanwhile I got three gallon pins and found out I am CMV negative, which is very rare and means my blood is in high demand for, get this, HIV positive patients! Since I came out, I have decided to be honest and stopped giving. The ban only serves to eliminate those who are most honest, and that also makes no sense.

    There are plenty of suburban gays who are having very infrequent sex with their one partner, and are at far lower risk for HIV transmission than the straight businessman picking up a hooker on a Vegas business trip, and the only reason they are barred from giving is because sufficiently loud people in this country have decided we’re all diseased perverts.

  • Gene Blossom


    Very simple. It has nothing to do with predudice against straight black people but an ever so glaring difference in Civil Rights. In Marriage, property rights and inheritance rights. I can go on, and on and on. However in my opinion Black People still have a long way to go to achieve full civil right and we Gay Men and Women are far behind in that category.

    Sincerely Yours,

    Gene Blossom

  • Debby

    I didn’t know this policy existed. I don’t think a patient that needs blood in the hospital is going to care who it came from. The Red Cross is always begging for blood donations, it shouldn’t matter what your sexual orientation is.

  • Bryan

    When I came out back in 1992, I was 16 and tried to donate blood for the first time at my high school. One of the pre-donation questions they asked was, “Have you ever had sex with another man at least once since 1971?” I, of course, answered “Yes.” After taking me aside and confirming my response, I was put on the deferred donor list for life.
    Thus began my hatred for the Red Cross.

  • Rainy

    I read this blog from time to time, but I don’t comment, so my comment is coming out of the blood. I’m not gay but I like to keep up on LBGT issues. My ex boyfriend used to be bi (I know, long story) and he and I went to give blood. I guess I could have lied to them about his past relationships, but I didn’t because I didn’t think it matter. They would not take my blood. They said that if I was sexually active with someone who in the past, had sex with men, my blood was high risk. I told her, you can’t do that, my blood is fine. She said that my name would be kept in a database so that I could never give blood. I couldn’t believe that.

  • Rainy

    I mean coming out of the blue* up there on the second line. Haha!

  • lyssa

    This policy affects trans women in exactly the same way.

    Of course, considering that so many gay men are here…it is no surprise that they think only of themselves and others who are caught by this inane policy.

    Something to think about when it comes time to seek allies…

  • lyssa

    should be “..and NOT others…”

  • Alfredo Munoz

    2,500 men who have sex with men (MSM) were diagnosed with HIV in the UK in 2005, the highest number since records began. Data from a recent London gay men’s sex survey concluded that while HIV- men are extremely aware of the HIV risks associated with receptive unprotected intercourse, a significant proportion still do not practice safe sex for a multitude of psychological reasons, including:

    • A desire for love, trust and intimacy greater than the fear of HIV;
    • A misguided assumption that HIV happens to other people;
    • A belief that HIV infection is not the worst thing that can happen;
    • Repeated negative tests, confirming a sense of immunity;
    • Fatalism regarding the perceived inevitability of becoming infected;
    • The prospect of engaging in lots of unprotected sex with other HIV+ men;
    • A willingness to share a partner’s sero-status;
    • The acquisition of attention and “victim kudos”;
    • The hope that having the virus will empower and make the individual a better person;
    • Simple, plain excitement.

    “For some men, sex without a condom fulfills a variety of deeply important needs, some of which are actually spiritual. Then there are men who have taken on the identity of the barebacker because it is their way of remaining a sexual outlaw.”
    ~ Michael Shernoff [HIV+ gay psychotherapist]

    “I [didn’t] care enough about myself to prevent it happening… And perhaps, if I am really honest, I actually wanted some means of opting further out of ‘normal’ society that had never welcomed me… HIV was a further step away for someone already conditioned to feel like an outsider.”
    ~ Paul Bakalite [Positive Nation]

    When the crystal meth high is thrown into the equation, it can prove potently persuasive in influencing such a person to risk acquiring HIV, and during the crash period when his mind is depressive and raped of self-
    worth and respect, safe sex can fall way down the list of considerations.

    A 2002 study of 518 MSM in New York found that 49% blamed the rise of barebacking on “boring” safe sex campaigns and 48% cited treatments. 1,500 New Yorkers a year still die from AIDS-related illnesses, and a further 1,000 don’t discover their status until already sick.

    “Some HIV prevention experts label the treatments ‘protease disinhibitors’, because they have lulled many gay men into believing that contracting HIV is less like getting cancer and more like getting diabetes, merely a matter of swallowing a few pills a day.”
    ~ Johann Hari [Attitude Magazine]

    The “Lazarus effect” of combination therapies in stemming and even reversing the progression to full-blown AIDS – by blocking viral replication within existing cells at different stages in the life cycle of the virus – means that young MSM today aren’t witnessing the harrowing, relentless death toll that defined the 1980-90s. Neither are they registering the impact of sustained, upfront safe sex campaigns which have all but dwindled in the wake of antiretrovirals arriving a decade ago, when AIDS agencies worldwide prematurely and recklessly hailed them as a silver bullet.

    “HIV meds aren’t a cure and can be lethal themselves. Despite all the advances, someone diagnosed with HIV is still likely to die from complications associated with the virus or the meds they’re taking to fight it. That’s a message that’s not getting out there, especially to younger gay men. A 21-year-old who learns today he has HIV can expect to die in his mid-40s.”
    ~ Chris Crain [New York Blade]

    A tidal wave of complacency by the gay men’s HIV sector has culminated in today’s soaring conversion rates, particularly among younger MSM who naively perceive AIDS as a treatable and manageable disease, yet who have no concept of consuming a cocktail of noxious drugs at set times each day that induce, night sweats, nausea, insomnia, constipation and loss of appetite, to name a few of the side effects that are part and parcel of keeping AIDS at bay, not to mention the increased risk of developing lung, liver and heart disease and/or cancer from these toxic medications.
    [See AID$ Inc. Uncovered]

  • FieldMedic

    It might be low down and dirty, but one way to get our point across could be to give blood, then phone up later in the day and say “Hey, I gave blood earlier today – and I’m gay.” Maybe they’d ignore the call, maybe they’d have to throw out the whole day’s batch – but if they do that enough times it’d start hurting and the thought would come across about changing the policy.

  • ann

    i am not able to donate because i have tattoos and i accept that. I do not feel like i am being discriminated against because im not. Testing blood that has been donated is costly and takes time. It makes sense to have a strict screening process in place. lying just so that you can donate is dangerous. If u think gay men should be able to donate blood, i suggest you go explore some of the AIDS units in a medical facility. Find a female around 75yrs old with full blown AIDS and listen to her story. You may have a change of heart.

  • Alfredo Munoz

    Thank You Ann for your courage and honesty.

  • lyssa

    Well put, Ann.

    I have buried two male lovers from back in the day before I transitioned. They both died from AIDS.

    One of them dumped me right after our protection failed. I was angry about it for quite some time, and finally, it dawned upon me.

    He was terrified of infecting me, and yes, he left me because he loved me.

    Gay men are notorious for their hatred of trans women, but this guy was a diamond among sand.

    His openess to trans women, and his thoughtfulness towards my femme self, well, maybe gays will figure that one out next century.

    I think his unwillingness to be so cavalier about passing on HIV is a lesson some people here would do well to heed.


  • Carol Anne

    For balance, this lesbian just earned her 100 pints pin from Puget Sound Blood Center. I’d like to see more dykes give blood.

  • AndyHat

    @PearlsBeforeSwine: The ban on bone marrow donation is not universal. The better known National Marrow Donor Program refuses to register gay men, but the Caitlin Raymond International Registry at UMass ( is happy to register us.

  • ZeeLee

    Wow. I’d be really upset if there was a ban.

  • Michael Rose

    The flaw in your post that most painfully sticks out is the comment,”If the blood is tainted, the tests will reveal it.” That is simply not true. As you pointed out, there is a significant window period, where the virus is hidden inside your T-cells and is therefore undetectable from tests. Yes, some of the tests give a shorter, 10 to 21 day window period, but those tests are less accurate than the 3 month tests. Window periods aside, the tests are NOT 100% sensitive. No blood test is. The better ones, like HIV are in the 90’s, but accuracy for other debilitating diseases like Hepatitis B and C fare worse.
    Unfortunately, homosexuals or men who have sex with men are simply more likely to carry these diseases for two reasons:

    1)The population as a whole has a higher prevalence of STDs, so each sexually active gay man is, statistically, much more often exposed to them.
    2)The act of anal intercourse (particularly receptive anal intercourse) increases one’s chance of infection from a carrier by about 15 times, compared to the risks of vaginal intercourse.

    This is not akin to racial profiling, because that uses one’s race as shorthand for the likelihood of criminal offense, despite the fact that there is no causative link between the two. This policy is taking a very real and dangerous risk factor for infection into account when trying to determine if blood is safe. Women who have had anal sex with men are prohibited too!

    What I would reiterate is that no blood test is perfect, and that hundreds of people a year still get infected with Hep B, C, and HIV because of undetected blood samples.

    It is easy to see why gay men would take this ban so personally, because it is essentially saying: “We think there’s a good chance you have HIV.” And for men who always use protection, that is frustrating. But like it or not, having sex (protected or not) with other men puts gay men at a much higher risk than men who have protected sex with women. These are the risks and benefits that each of us consider when we engage in sexual acts, and how we act with that information varies from person to person. It is not, however, our right to make these decisions for other people in need of blood or for the medical community. The doctors, nurses, and health policy community are just trying to do their best in a world of imperfect blood tests and imperfect condoms.

  • Jay

    I don’t think I would go as far to lie to be able to donate blood, if they don’t want my blood it’s their loss. – however we should be able to donate just like everybody else. They’re sending out the message that men having sex with men automatically produces aids, which is absolutely ridiculous.

  • lyssa

    @Michael Rose: Yes. See “lazarus syndrome” above, too.

    @ most of the gays posting here. Is your sense of being “just like everybody else” worth more than placing innocents at risk of HIV?

    Seems a helluva big penalty to impose on innocents just so you all can stroke your ego. But, then again, I have come to expect nothing less from teh Gay.

  • Michael vdB


    Does that mean that since I am gay and in a monog relationship for the past 6 years makes me any less of a person because I would like to donate blood?

    Am I being selfish that the whole reason why I even would consider the fact is that I want to help people? But…because I am gay I am thought to automatically be carrying HIV?

    Does that mean then, as a gay person, I don’t have any right to continue my education to become a registered nurse because the off shoot chance I may spread my attitude and then, I guess, my gayness? All because I come from a segement of the population that is at higher risk of HIV? Throwing figures without the background information on those participants is losing half the story.

    I find it abhorrent that people automatically assume things about a segment of a population. Does that mean that because I am in college that I am proned to binge drinking? I don’t party or do the club scene. I have two boys and a family and a life that I love and cherish.

    To say something about “the Gay” only reminds me of people that have a narrow view point of the world.

  • lyssa

    And… you place the value of “looking good” and your own desires above public health.

    Your comment smacks of a whiney gay man with a myopic view of social responsibility.

    Your shamelessly Mattachine assimilationist valuing of your own little world above protecting the public health speaks volumes.

    And when so many otherwise rational gay men wheedle about how they are exempt from having medical fact tarnish their superficial image, when they over and over stop being rational, thinking feeling, socially responsible beings they are, then calling them “teh gay” is totally appropriate.

    If this bothers you, maybe its time to alter the behavior people are complaining about.

    Maybe its time to look beyond your selfish little need to appropriate straight white male privilege, collateral damage be damned.

    Just maybe, your need for style is overridden by innocent others need for substance. How many Ryan Whites is acceptable for you to feel good about passing on your plasma? What is “acceptable lossage” in your book?

    If you really want to help people and not just mouth off about how much you are inconvenienced by not being able to donate, why not talk to your gay friends and tell them that barebacking is dangerous.

    Or maybe, selling out other minorities who have it worse than you is immoral. Or maybe even speak up to AIDS clinics that treat gays and tell them to stop turning away trans women to die?

    Perhaps you could even speak up when other fags disrespect trans women, or cooperate in their oppression. Hey, we’re affected by this ban too…but you are here candy assing about Just Gay Men. Why is your focus so damn narrow?

    Selfish much?

    If you claim to be helping beyond your little Mattachine lie, these are a great start. Others here have suggested some good ways to look at this too.

    I think you answered my question, as have so many other fags. And yes, I have had lovers with HIV before, who had a very different perspective than what I see here. One that is a little more…. responsible.

  • NoD

    Well, since African American woman aged 14-35 are one of the biggest populations with a rise in HIV infections the gov’t should ban them too. Oh wait, that’s wrong, its racist, its against their civil rights.

    This “rule” is archaic and asinine. I am 100% out in life and only sneak in the closet for 30 minutes every few months to donate blood b/c as a health care worker I understand the importance of this service to hospitals and institutions.

  • Dave in STL

    I agree, this policy is worse than ‘stinky’ it hurts one’s pride of community involvement and participation. I will never forget shortly after 9/11 my disabled roomate wanted to do “something” to help. He had seen a PSA on television asking for blood donations. I drove him to the gymnasium where they were collecting blood, the whole time in the car he was talking about how good he felt to be able to somehow help the stricken after 9/11. He was of course informed they didn’t want his blood due his sexual “history”. I still remember the ride home, it still breaks my heart today. On the way home I had to keep my composure as I explained the reasoning the Red Cross used to deny his donation. He was hurt, I was hurt (and furious). I will never forgive the Red Cross for that. To this day, I would never contribute or support them. In this modern age there is no excuse for a medical question to deny blood donation.

  • lyssa

    Your post deserves a good fisking…it was so bad. Here goes:

    Does that mean that since I am gay and in a monog relationship for the past 6 years makes me any less of a person because I would like to donate blood?
    No. It makes you part of a population that is demonstrated high risk. While you may be living an impeccably “straight” life, other gay men are not.

    Am I being selfish that the whole reason why I even would consider the fact is that I want to help people? But…because I am gay I am thought to automatically be carrying HIV?
    Yes. Your view places your selfish desire to feel good about yourself above the need for a safer blood supply. Denying high risk groups makes the blood supply safer. Deal
    Does that mean then, as a gay person, I don’t have any right to continue my education to become a registered nurse because the off shoot chance I may spread my attitude and then, I guess, my gayness? All because I come from a segement of the population that is at higher risk of HIV? Throwing figures without the background information on those participants is losing half the story.

    Irrelevant. No one is denying your access to education. Stop being such a whiney queen. It hought histrionic gays were just a stereotype…guess you proved me wrong.
    I find it abhorrent that people automatically assume things about a segment of a population. Does that mean that because I am in college that I am proned to binge drinking? I don’t party or do the club scene. I have two boys and a family and a life that I love and cherish.
    Good for you. Your education in healthcare is obviously paying off. But no one is assuming anything here… they are trying to keep a population safe… and sometimes that means individual sacrifice. Are you claiming that your individual committment to good health should exonerate others who are not as committed, and who have a demonstrated high risk?Beyond that, your family life is irrelevant. This is not a character trial.
    To say something about “the Gay” only reminds me of people that have a narrow view point of the world.
    Fair enough. But, when so many gays act in a way that is myopic, suggests almost cult-like thinking, and elevates their right to look good above others right to a safer blood supply…then…’if the shoe fits, wear it.'”

    If you do not want to be pilloried with negative stereotypes, consider that they just might be…true. And then, let your conscience be your guide…if you have one…


    The trouble is that they’re being overly broad in defining this particular “high risk group.” A long-term, monogamous couple is *not* high-risk. Someone who hasn’t had sex in 5, 10 or more years and still tests negative is *not* high risk. Notice that every OTHER restriction based on HIV risk is limited to 12 months after the potential exposure, but two healthy men having sex even once gets a *lifetime* ban? Don’t claim logic for this one, there simply isn’t any.

  • lyssa

    They could certainly use some precision in defining high risk. Their problem seems to be sloppiness, not illogic.

    High risk groups that should be excluded are not, gays are not subdivided according to their risk properly. And so on…

    But what is most troubling is that so many gays take a monomaniacal view, claiming their own pain, and refusing to see the larger issue here. Even worse, they are allowing homophobia to cloud their judgement. The sheer entitlement is…grossly disturbing.

    Donating blood is a privilege, not a right. Maybe attention should be focused on reducing AIDS, instead of crowing about the “injustice” of being tagged for spreading the damn disease back in the 80s.

    Quit bitching, and do AIDS outreach.

  • Ed

    There are a lot of moronic postings scattered around here. But since they seem to be coming from desperate perspectives I’ll leave them be.

    Suffice it to say, the ban is archaic and quite dangerous. Men who identify themselves with being gay and have had anal sex are not the groups with the highest transmission rate of HIV. Limiting the ban to this subgroup is stupid. Despite what some posters might like to assume, our society has long since abandoned neat little classifications when it comes to sexual practices.

    1. Being a GLBT person is not a behavioral choice. Although there exist similar behavioral characteristics, they are cultural constructs at best. A GLBT person is born not made.

    2. Many men who live the hetero lifestyle or are hetero have had sex with men in their lives.

    3. Most people are not honest, not always by malicious intent, as to whom they have slept with.

    4. Many women unknowingly engage in intercourse with men who don’t reveal same sex experiences.

    The shifts along the sexuality spectrum is extremely diversified. As a younger person I know of very few males who have NOT had same sex experiences regardless of their orientation. The fact remains that whenever anyone has sex with a person they are never guaranteed to know of their partner’s history. In today’s world, the boundaries are much broader.

    The limitation puts an enormous strain on our country’s reserves. I myself am a gay male with type 0 negative blood. I’m in excellent health (no STD’s or virus of any kind), unlike my hetero friends, and I have been in a monogamous relationship for over 11 years. I’m also a good candidate for bone marrow donation. I really would like to do it but I have not brought myself to lie.

    If it’s a question of money when it comes to testing then there are solutions. This limitation out of ignorance is dumb and hurts more than helps our country.


    @lyssa: Don’t look at me, I’m eligible under the current rules.

    But let me see if I understand this… you’re saying the excluded groups are ill-defined in both directions, but we shouldn’t complain about it? I can’t speak for anyone else, but what I want is a blood supply that is both ample and safe. I don’t want them accepting donations from whatever high-risk groups they currently allow (what are they, anyway, since you brought it up?), but I don’t want them excluding more healthy donors than absolutely necessary either. I don’t want to be eligible to donate if there is some legitimate medical reason not to, but (especially for organs) restricting donations too broadly can *kill*.

    And yes, defining “high-risk groups” based on politics and/or overgeneralizations does qualify as illogical.

  • Garrik

    I live in Germany where there’s also a ban in place. I was not aware of it until, about three years ago, I donated for the first time and read the form. I lied…
    After I came home I googled a bit and found out that anybody who belongs to the “HIV-risk-group” cannot donate blood. By the way, here’s who belongs into this so-called risk-group:
    – prostitutes
    – “sex tourists”
    – drug addicts
    – prisoners, and of course
    – homosexuals.

    After reading all this, I decided not to donate blood eventhough ghe German Red Cross complains about the blood-shortage every summer. If the society puts me in the same group as drug addicts and prostitutes, then I guess I don’t own that kind of society anything.

  • AndyHat

    @Ed: In case you missed my earlier comment, please note that you can register for marrow donation without any need to lie. The federally funded National Marrow Donor Program won’t do it, but the privately funded Caitlin Raymond International Registry at UMass ( will.

  • Michael vdB

    Lyssa, it doesn’t matter what circumstances our lives turn up, your feeling is to dump all of us into the same group and call us whiney queens. I am sorry that your past experiences have been bad and I can only hope that your cold heart will find some enlightenment in the future. HIV/AIDS does not only affect the gay community, it affects us all. If I put your philosophy into perspective for every other aspect of my daily life, I might as well stop living or turn just as jaded as some.

  • Bruce Chris

    There is one distinction here that no one seems to be making. There are men who accept that they are members of the gay community. Then there are men who have had sex with another man only a small number of times, and there are about 10 times as many of that group.

    If the FDA and or the Red Cross cannot distinguish one from the other by asking you questions or having you fill out a form, then they probably cannot tell anything about an individual except with a blood test.

    As a member of the second group, is is obvious why I cannot donate. According to their rules, I’ve been dead for 20 years.

  • Ed


    thanks!!!! AndyHat. I’m going to check it out. I’m super excited now. I was already deflated with a bone marrow drive once and dumbly thought that was it.

    Really cool- thx again!

  • Will

    It is the same way here in Canada, one of the more liberal countries in the world.

    Canadian Blood Services asks the exact same, word for word question as the Red Cross “men who’ve had sex with other men, even once, since 1977”. Yes, I have in fact had sex with another man, and the same man for the last 3yrs in our committed relationship, so, I like you, lie.

    A number of years ago I also signed up for the unrelated bone marrow registry. Well guess what, it is now illegal for a gay man to donate their organs in Canada. Who cares if it may be my sister, or mom, or brother who needs a kidney, a piece of liver, I’m barred from donating something to them in order save their lives.

    I got a phone call the other day from the bone marrow registry. Turns out I’m a potential match for someone who needs a bone marrow transplant. I once again lied on the questionnaire and told them no, I haven’t had sex with another man since 1977 and today I had further blood tests in order to find out if I’m a match to save someones life.

    Something tells me that whomever is receiving my bone marrow would care less if I’m gay. A parent isn’t going to care that I am gay if it saves their child from a horrible disease.

  • b

    gay men do not make up ten percent of the pop.

  • Alfredo Munoz

    Thank You LYSSA for your integrity and courage.I see so much
    self righteous indignation in these comments most of them also self serving and not altruistic in any way shape or form.

  • JakiChan

    All I have to say is: A guy in a monogamous 10-year relationship can’t donate, but a frat boy who has banged 20 chicks this semester can. Something not right there…

  • lyssa

    @<a [email protected]Alfredo Munoz:

    You are most welcome. Part of the reason I am so mad at the gay community is that so many here seem invested in the trappings of privilege and not the responsibilities.

    Gay men are routinely stereotyped as being self centered and irresponsible. Seeing so many gays here living the stereotype to the fullest is…distressing to say the least.

    As several people here have pointed out, the blood screening procedure is in bad shape.

    Virtually everyone here has chosen to ignore that this problem is bigger than some fags with an injury to their self image.

    Internalized homophobia much? Thought so.

    Just maybe gays should concentrate on cleaning up their act before demanding that they be seen as already done so.

    Just maybe they should see beyond their own selfishness, and examine the larger problem, and not focus so much on their hurt, and the entitlement to place others at risk to salve their own need to look good over being good.

    So, tell me this…why all the focus on gay when the policy excludes many folks who aren’t? Self centeredness? Lack of social conscience?

  • charmion

    actually, i already have lied.

    I feel like donating blood is important, for more than just the civic duty reason. When i was born there where complications, and i mean complications. Long story short, if it hadn’t been for donated blood, my mom may not have made it. Things where even worse when my sister was born. Mom had to be rushed to a hospital 30 miles away, using units on units of donated blood, just on the ride.

    I lie because this sort of thing happens, and I can’t stand the thought of someone loosing their mother to something like there being ‘not enough blood’. Just because I’ve had contact with another man doesn’t disqualify me. I know him, and I know where he’s been. And i know that you cant say that for everyone, but when you KNOW what the situation is, is lying on the evaluation really that important? Is it worth someones life just because I’m gay?

  • lyssa


    And in your accounting, you forget the Ryan Whites of the world, and, you knowingly lie and break the law doing so.

    How is this moral again? Seems awfully self serving bullshit to me.

    That said, you were probably one of the fags that supported dumping trans protections from ENDA and SONDA and others, and fully believe that lesbians are justified in excluding trans women, and that there is no problem with fags bashing trans women.

  • charmion


    Are you so full of hatred for wrongs done in the past that you can not accept any one person for who they are but must place your views over theirs?

    I KNOW that I am clean. I KNOW that he is clean. This isn’t a guessing game for me, it is about being 100 PERCENT sure, without the shadow of a doubt, that what I am doing is Safe, and in the interests of those who need it.

    I will continue to donate as long as I am 100 percent sure that I am clean, and will continue to do so so that nobody needs to worry about being left without a loved one, especially when they need them most.

    Beyond that, I have a serious problem with your assumption that I am one of those “fags that supported dumping trans protections from ENDA and SONDA and others, and fully believe that lesbians are justified in excluding trans women, and that there is no problem with fags bashing trans women.”
    Maybe you should stop guessing who people are and get out there and actually talk to someone so that you can discover that we all aren’t as soulless as any of the assholes you may have dealt with in the past, and if needs be, I will honestly be there for you to talk to. My only regret is that there are people who make you feel this way.

  • lyssa


    Methinks the fag doth protest to much.

    That said, you are openly declaring yourself as a liar. Yet you demand trust. You openly admit to breaking the donor law. Yet you demand respect and the benefit of the doubt. You are even self righteous about it to a fault.

    How, then, is anyone supposed to think of you as anything but a liar and a lawbreaker?

    With an overdose of male entitlement?

    My opinion of you stands.

  • Florence Nightingale

    I’m not a gay man but I am a nurse who happens to work for Red Cross collecting blood.
    Are people aware that a blood test cannot detect a recent HIV infection. There is a window period in which you could have a low level of HIV in your body, in your blood stream, but it cannot be detected yet.
    Even that low level could infect the recipient of your blood.
    Is lying on the form really the right thing to do?
    Who does it help?
    Is it the recipient that you really want to help or is it your pride that is your priority?


    And that window is 32 years long, is it? 1977 is ridiculously far back to go.

  • charmion

    As soon as my blood causes anyone harm I am fully prepared to accept the blame. BUT I know it won’t. And if you’re not willing to trust me, you are just going to have to bleed, fearing tainted blood in the system.
    I am aware that it is a lie and that it breaks the law, but it is for the wellness of others that I risk my freedom. I know I am clean, and I will continue to donate until there is even the slightest, most insignificant sliver of a real reason for me not to.
    If I was a risk, they would have blacklisted me long ago.

  • Florence Nightingale

    How can you be blacklisted as a risk?
    By lying you infer there is no risk.

    Nice of you to offer to accept the blame if you infect someone. Really big of you……

    I guess if you or someone dear to you ever needs a blood transfusion you will have ample time to mull over what risks the former owner of your new blood was exposed to.
    Perhaps they too will be big enough to accept any blame if required.

  • charmion

    @Florence Nightingale:

    what I was saying is that if my blood ever made anyone ill or infected as a result of my lie I accept the blame. sure it would be to late at that point, but I am 100% positive that it is clean. I know lying and then asking for trust is hypocritical, but it’s as much a way of life now as breathing and drinking water.
    You’ll be hard-pressed to find someone who hasn’t.
    If you’d like me to outline my sexual encounters with the only two people I’ve ever been with (one female, one male) then by all means, do go ahead and ask. But I stand by my word and risk my eternal spirit that my blood is clean and I will donate so long as it is.

  • lyssa

    Ok dude, repeat after me:

    “Two wrongs don’t make a right”

    Florence, you can lead a fag to morality, but ya can’t make him drink. Well put, tho.

  • Burka

    @Jason K: [email protected]lyssa:

    So Lyssa, when my straight male friend was raped by a man when he was younger, but has been tested time and again and to this day, years and years later still remains clean, he lost his right to give blood, right? Even though he doesn’t have HIV, AIDS, or anything but completely healthy blood, and isn’t gay and does not have sex with other men, his blood and organs are no good, right?

    So when his little brother needs a kidney transplant, he probably shouldn’t consider donating one in order to save his life, right?

    And when someone you love dies because there wasn’t enough of their blood type in the reserve supply, maybe then you’ll reconsider your “moral” views.

    Having sex with a man doesn’t mean you have HIV. If you think otherwise, you’re the immoral one in this situation.

  • lyssa


    First things first: I am truly sorry about your friend who was raped. Been there, done that.

    Don’t even get me started on the gay men who decided that a deep dicking was all I needed to convince me not to transition.

    So, I understand.

    That said, the policy affects far more than gay men. Trans women like me for example.

    And, if you read my prior posts, I talked about how the policy was wrong. It is half-assed at a minimum.

    So, your entire argument is specious, and irrelevant.

    Why are gay men demanding a cookie for lying? What part of ‘two wrongs do not make a right’ do they not understand?

    I am disallowed under this policy too! And yes, I’m clean, and in a monogamous relationship with the most wonderful trans woman on the planet.

    And, I encourage my friends to donate. I tell them why I cannot. That trans women, gay men, and many others of social conscience would like to donate, but cannot, and oh yeah, won’t you donate in their name?

    The result? a lot more people give a pint than would otherwise. Because I turn an insane ban on gay and trans women’s blood into useful social action instead of self serving whining.

    The difference between me and you is that I am unwilling to lie to stroke my wounded ego. You will freely lie and place others at risk to do so. As far as adding to the blod supply, I dare say that I add more than you this way, with a lotta help from my friends, and raise social awareness too.

    I also do not surrender the moral high ground with my approach.

    Unlike you. And, I find that gays are all too willing to act immorally when it comes to salving an ego bruised by societal homophobia.

    There really are better ways, dear.

  • lyssa

    One has a hard time thinking the policy is bigoted when the people it excludes say things like this:
    “what I was saying is that if my blood ever made anyone ill or infected as a result of my lie I accept the blame. sure it would be to late at that point, but I am 100% positive that it is clean. I know lying and then asking for trust is hypocritical, but it’s as much a way of life now as breathing and drinking water.”

    So, he and many others here are asking us to trust him with our lives, and at the same time accept that he thinks lying is A-OK since everybody does it.

    Cognitive dissonance much?

    PS: You can’t make this shit up. I am so glad I come here…I am saving a fortune by not buying cable TV or expensive comedy pay per views.

  • Jake

    I Lie every 56 days or so. They test my blood. I play safe in the meantime. I don’t think the Red Cross needs to know who I have sex with, just like I don’t think my coworkers or the US Census or my Pharmacy or any other organization needs to know. I’m here, I’m queer, but you don’t need to know that.

    So yeah, I choose to give life. What of it?

  • lyssa

    Sounds like you might be giving a lil more than life with that pint…


    I don’t get this. You agree that the policy is wrong, even calling it “insane”, yet still insist that anyone, no matter how clean and disease-free they are, is still somehow endangering lives if they tell a lie to get around it. I hate to ask, but would you mind providing the logic behind this, or is it just based on the hatred for gay men in general you seem to spout no matter what the topic?

  • Zachery

    Ok, my school hosts a blood drive every 6 weeks or so for Carder Blood Care. I have so far donated two times. I am a sexualy active gay! When i went to donate blood the first time, they asked me if I have had sex with another male even once, and I said no. Now that was a lie, but I lied because I know that I am negative for all STD’s. Each time I have sex, I always get tested! ALWAYS!!!!!! So I see no reason why I can’t donate blood just because the label ‘gay’ has been placed on my life. So about 2 weeks after I donated blood for the first time, I recieved a postcard from Carder Blood Care asking me to make sure I donate next time because my blood type is O- and that makes my blood pretty rare. (not the the rariest but close to it) So I once again i prooved I did not have tanted blood because of the screening I know that they do on every single drop of blood that works its way through the facility. So 2 days ago they were back for students to donate blood. Of course I went to sign in and donate. And I was wearing a rainbow sweat band on my rist. I donated double (where they only take my red blood cells and give me back my plasma and placelets) and when I was done, they ladie had the nerve to ask me why I am wearing that sweat band. I gladly said that I was gay and it is a symbol of the gay community and gay pride. she gave me the most dirtiest look I have ever gotten, and being gay I get a lot of dirty looks. I was mad as hell. this lady knew that I have donated before and that my blood was healthy and clean, but because I have the lable of being gay, she had to stick her two sence in. I am soooo glad that Obama is president because he supports gya rights, and hopefully someday he will put an end to this ridiculous law!!!!


  • Burka


    Amen, amen.

  • Burka


    I think you’re math is a little fuzzy with that “2 wrongs don’t make a right” line…

    Tis ridiculous policy (1 wrong) + a CLEAN AND HEALTHY gay man who lies and donates blood (another wrong) = someone’s life being saved when they otherwise would have died (must be another wrong…right?)

    Get off your high horse and think about what REALLY matters – morality isn’t morality when it’s done simply for the sake of trying to be moral. When the bigger picture calls for a little lie in order to do a lot of good, it’s far from fair to call such a lie immoral.

  • lyssa


    Its about the lying, and demanding a cookie for it.

    What part of lying is bad do you not grasp?

    What part of self aggrandizement masquerading as altruism do you not comprehend?

    Sometimes, ya gotta tell the truth, and be honest with yourself.

    And it hurts to see this so lacking among gay men.

    After all, where do you think I came from? I wasn’t born a lesbian…just gay and male.

    Think about that.

  • lyssa

    *shakes her head*

  • Jose

    @Florence Nightingale:
    What aren’t people understanding….. Yes statistically Gay men are at higher risk of carrying the HIV virus, but who lives their lives according to statistics? The fact is that gay Men get tested more frequently than straight people as a whole. Yes, there is a chance that a recent infection can go undetected but that recent infection can be with anyone not just gay men. This law implies that Gay men are the only human beings that can carry this disease. Maybe, we should focus on our testing equipment and figure out a way to detect the infection at a lower level or maybe preserve the blood for a month then test it? Why aren’t any of these suggestions an option? It’s discrimination no matter which way you slice it!

  • Alice

    Last time I checked it was unlawful to discriminate a person based on sexual orientation. So why does this law suddenly disappear when it comes to LGBT? I fucking hate idiots who are too stubborn to get over the fact that these people share the same rights as everyone else. Americans need to quit being fucking homphobes and pull their heads out of their asses and get concerned about REAL issues.

  • Chris

    Lyssa, you are a bitter woman who keeps calling “fags” self-centered for opposing this rule, and yet you yourself whine about how gays don’t think about how it affects trans women like you. None of your arguments hold water. Posting a lot doesn’t make up for it.

    Someone said they know they don’t have HIV, and so lie to give blood. Then you accuse them of passing on HIV?!?! Ridiculous. You make no sense, and neither does this rule. Gay men – get tested (like everyone should), and if you don’t have HIV lie and donate. The rule should be changed, but until it does the blood banks need all the donations they can get. I wouldn’t call it breaking the law, I would call it civil disobedience at its finest.

    Also, DON’T boycott the Red Cross or oppose blood collection efforts in any way. It’s the FDA’s fault, anyway, and taking it out on the people who need blood isn’t fair.

  • Burka

    Give this man a Pulitzer – fantastic response. Well put friend, well put.

  • Bringer of sad truth

    Sadly, no. Discrimination based on sexual orientation is not illegal.

  • Jeremy

    Let me put it very simply: If we are able to successfully test blood for diseases then everybody should be allowed to donate and if we are NOT able to successfully test blood for diseases then NOBODY should be allowed to donate. Seeing as last time I checked our society was at the former, I really don’t see what the problem is.

  • Lauren R

    First I’d like to admit that I did NOT read the multitude of replies to this article, and I do agree with the general theme of the post.

    I’m betting everything has been said in the 8 1/2 months since this was first posted, however I have one thing to add.

    Sure, a man having anal sex with a man is considered a higher risk for HIV in today’s society, but what about WOMEN who have anal sex?

    The whole rear-end bit in itself adds risk when it comes to contracting STDs/STIs, INCLUDING HIV/AIDS, regardless of who you are, your orientation…

    Not once when I have donated blood have I seen a box for women who have had anal sex, but every time I see the box for male/male contact.

    I find this personally offensive, though I am not a male, and it should be fixed. If you’re going to prevent healthy gay men from donating blood and helping the community, then you should stop every single woman who has ever had a penis in her rear.

  • chip


    See thats strange because in the uk (where I am) they aren’t fussed for bone marrow and all the registries are interlinked anyway.

    I officially can’t give blood anymore simply because my boyfriend is bisexual and has been with men. It’s ridiculous and out dated. While I understand the absolute need for clean blood it all gets tested and those patients with weak or non-existent immune systems receiving transfusions i.e leukemia sufferers receive irradiated blood.

  • Adam Bomb

    I just got back from the Red Cross blood drive at my place of employment. They didn’t want my blood because I’m gay and have been sexually active. I was completely unaware of this policy until now, and I find myself wondering why I didn’t know before. If I’d known, I probably would have lied like the author of the article. My blood is clean, and it really upsets me that they won’t take it. Donating blood has always been a scary experience for me, and I forced myself to sign up a couple months ago at work. I was willing to deal with my fear of giving blood so that I could help someone who needed it. Then I got the proverbial slap in the face. How can this be happening?

  • Captain Slappy

    Most excellent. You see, semen-filled sodomy blood makes normal people do two things:

    #1- Not want anything to do with you.
    #2- Use a shitload of Pine Sol wherever you go.

    Try to figure out WHY they don’t want it, then go be normal, and this will stop. Really, that hard kids.

  • ud0n1kn0wm3

    omg you totally disgust me. they also dont take blood from drug addicts/needle users, people who have been to certain regions of the world and people in jail and for many other reasons. it is for the safety of others. if you knowingly practice something that is risky and ignore the risk you are being terribly selfish and irresponsible.

    I am disgusted. you should be serving jail time for that shit. I give platelets, i give til it literally hurts, and i am a total bitch, but i would never lie about something so important WHEN IT IMPACTS CHILDREN AND OTHER PEOPLE! is your pride more important than their lives???

    you are an idiot. what comes around goes around. People like you make me lose faith in humanity one idiot at a time. what is this world coming to?

    and for all you “straight” people who think you are better than others who are gay, GET A CLUE OR BUY A VOWEL YOU ARE JUST AS MUCH OF A SINNER AS THEY ARE.

    ugh sometimes i am embarrassed of being a part of this human race. People like you are why we need more chlorine in the gene pool.


  • ud0n1kn0wm3

    No. 107 · Adam Bomb

    I just got back from the Red Cross blood drive at my place of employment. They didn’t want my blood because I’m gay and have been sexually active. I was completely unaware of this policy until now, and I find myself wondering why I didn’t know before. If I’d known, I probably would have lied like the author of the article. My blood is clean, and it really upsets me that they won’t take it. Donating blood has always been a scary experience for me, and I forced myself to sign up a couple months ago at work. I was willing to deal with my fear of giving blood so that I could help someone who needed it. Then I got the proverbial slap in the face. How can this be happening?
    Posted: Sep 30, 2009 at 9:09 am


    Adam, dont worry about giving blood, there are many other ways to serve your community. I assure you that denying your blood was not personal. It had no direct reflection of their opinion of you. AT LEAST YOU DIDNT LIE!!! Besides, i have a friend that cant donate blood either cuz of hepatitis something he got when he was younger… it is ALLLLLLLLLLL ABOUT THE RISKKKKKKKKKKKKKKKK and to deny that there is no risk between 2 people of the same sex melting each others butter is just ignorant and irresponsible. we are talking about other lives. I am not a people person, but i do give platelets which is about a 2 hour donation… they double bag me cuz my count is so high…. BUT … they suck out your blood filter out the platelets and pump your blood back into you cold… last tiem i literally left crying it hurt so bad….. so i guess I am telling you this because um, i really dont know…. lol …other then to tell you that i get denied all the time due to low iron count, they wont even take THAT risk (and you know how desperate they are for platelets & blood). Peoples lives are at issue and it can have a deadly outcome leaving children without parents. You don’t think it is worth that risk, do you? I understand the desire to give back, but never to satisfy ones narcissistic ways.

    Anyways, thanks for being truthful. Character is so hard to find these days.

  • Adam Bomb

    Wait, what the hell? You post the above after that horribly rude bullcrap you posted right before it? Piss off.

  • [email protected]

    That is because I hate liars and have no tollerance for them. There is a clear difference in motivation, here. After all if you were really serving another for their benifit, not your own validation, you wouldn’t put that person at risk. Maybe that is just a connection a few here have yet to grasp :/

  • Thomas

    I have haemophilia for a start, therefore I am strictly prohibited to donate blood, as mine does not clot naturally. I think it is totally unfair that someone is denied the right to donate blood because of their sexuality, and it really is depriving very sick people of the blood they may require to stay alive, just because it is a common speculation that the HIV virus is only, or almost always only present in the gay community. It’s ridiculous, and in my opinion wrong. I think that it should be made legal for gay men to donate blood.

  • Vickeee

    I was looking through the online questionaire for blood donations when I came across this senseless question.

    What happened to “all men are created equal,” and those “I have a dream” stuff? Do they only apply to discrimination against races?

    If people don’t even care about my yellow skin anymore, then they should stop worrying about someone’s sexual orientation.

  • threshold

    I can tell you one thing, if my blood isn’t good enough for the medical establishment, my organs sure as hell aren’t. If I get in an accident, my HIV negative, HCV negative organs will be rotting in the ground.

  • Adam Bomb


    I’ll bet that we aren’t allowed to donate organs, either. I can’t say that’s true for sure, but it wouldn’t surprise me if they banned that, too…

  • Robert

    I was recently in a group of my gay friends, and this topic came up. It turned out that 5 out of the 7 of us had lied and donated blood.

    Even if this policy is justified, it’s counterproductive. I’d be willing to bet that a higher proportion of MSMs lie and donate blood than MSWs (is that even a term?). And still anyone getting HIV from blood transfusions is very, very rare.

    I lie when donating all the time. Personally I’m at no higher risk than a heterosexual as I’ve been in a mutually monogamous relationship with an HIV- partner and I use protection. That’s what they should screen on the basis of: behavior and not orientation. It works in Spain, France, Italy.

  • t

    in my opinion if a person is sexually active and is not in a monogamous relationship they should not be allowed to donate blood, gay, straight, man or woman. the hiv virus can spend years in the blood and even tests wont reveal it until it wants to be revealed, why risk other peoples health if you are not sure if you really are free of diseases?

  • jessie

    no 117, you have an hiv positive partner and you still donate? thats insane you might have hiv and it just hasnt come out in tests yet.

  • Sheila Daniels

    I am a straight female. As a former sex worker and long-time donor (over 20 years), I asked a health professional about this. I am a low risk individual in that I always used condoms with clients. Always. But I always had to lie about “have you ever accepted money for sex, even once, since 1977?”
    This professional, after a thorough intake, told me that I was doing a greater good by lying and donating than telling the truth on this point.
    Think of it, if I was a swinger with multiple partners, and money was not an issue, I would be allowed to donate without lying, and I would probably not be as diligent about condom use.
    Healthy gay men in monogamous relationships should be allowed to donate.
    The screening questions need to get to the root of behavior, and risk assessment.
    How many partners in the last year? How often do you use condoms? Do you engage in unprotected anal sex? Ass-to-mouth?

    Once they get your blood, it’s screened for HIV, hepatitis, and a few other diseases. Some blood products must be used in five, while other components can be frozen for months.
    It has to do with a limited supply and the greater good.

  • Kisha

    I have a question… Do they not test/ screen the blood before passing it on to other people? If they do, I see no reason why gay men are unable to donor blood to help individuals in need.

  • woman

    I really hope that some people get it. I have done a lot of research on this as of late. Any time you LIE you are NOT helping ANYONE but YOURSELF. I hope maybe at least one person will look beyond themselves and see the big picture. I encourage all to go to the FDA site and down load the report they speak of. it is 398 pages or so, i did my due diligence.

    the following is a complete article taken off the FDA website. it answers all (if not, most) of the questions posted here.
    Blood Donations from Men Who Have Sex with Other Men Questions and Answers

    What is FDA’s policy on blood donations from men who have sex with other men (MSM)?

    Men who have had sex with other men, at any time since 1977 (the beginning of the AIDS epidemic in the United States) are currently deferred as blood donors. This is because MSM are, as a group, at increased risk for HIV, hepatitis B and certain other infections that can be transmitted by transfusion.

    The policy is not unique to the United States. Many European countries have recently reexamined both the science and ethics of the lifetime MSM deferral, and have retained it (See the transcript of the “FDA Workshop on Behavior-Based Donor Deferrals in the NAT Era” for further information.). This decision is also consistent with the prevailing interpretation of the European Union Directive 2004/33/EC article 2.1 on donor deferrals.

    Why doesn’t FDA allow men who have had sex with men to donate blood?

    A history of male-to-male sex is associated with an increased risk for the presence of and transmission of certain infectious diseases, including HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. FDA’s policy is intended to protect all people who receive blood transfusions from an increased risk of exposure to potentially infected blood and blood products.

    The deferral for men who have had sex with men is based on the following considerations regarding risk of HIV:

    * Men who have had sex with men since 1977 have an HIV prevalence (the total number of cases of a disease that are present in a population at a specific point in time) 60 times higher than the general population, 800 times higher than first time blood donors and 8000 times higher than repeat blood donors (American Red Cross). Even taking into account that 75% of HIV infected men who have sex with men already know they are HIV positive and would be unlikely to donate blood, the HIV prevalence in potential donors with history of male sex with males is 200 times higher than first time blood donors and 2000 times higher than repeat blood donors.
    * Men who have had sex with men account for the largest single group of blood donors who are found HIV positive by blood donor testing.
    * Blood donor testing using current advanced technologies has greatly reduced the risk of HIV transmission but cannot yet detect all infected donors or prevent all transmission by transfusions. While today’s highly sensitive tests fail to detect less than one in a million HIV infected donors, it is important to remember that in the US there are over 20 million transfusions of blood, red cell concentrates, plasma or platelets every year. Therefore, even a failure rate of 1 in a million can be significant if there is an increased risk of undetected HIV in the blood donor population.
    * Detection of HIV infection is particularly challenging when very low levels of virus are present in the blood for example during the so-called “window period”. The “window period” is the time between being infected with HIV and the ability of an HIV test to detect HIV in an infected person.
    * FDA’s MSM policy reduces the likelihood that a person would unknowingly donate blood during the “window period” of infection. This is important because the rate of new infections in MSM is higher than in the general population and current blood donors.
    * Collection of blood from persons with an increased risk of HIV infection also presents an added risk if blood were to be accidentally given to a patient in error either before testing is completed or following a positive test. Such medical errors occur very rarely, but given that there are over 20 million transfusions every year, in the USA, they can occur. That is one more reason why FDA and other regulatory authorities work to assure that there are multiple safeguards, not just testing.
    * Several scientific models show there would be a small but definite increased risk to people who receive blood transfusions if FDA’s MSM policy were changed and that preventable transfusion transmission of HIV could occur as a result.
    * No alternate set of donor eligibility criteria (even including practice of safe sex or a low number of lifetime partners) has yet been found to reliably identify MSM who are not at increased risk for HIV or certain other transfusion transmissible infections.
    * Today, the risk of getting HIV from a transfusion or a blood product has been nearly eliminated in the United States. Improved procedures, donor screening for risk of infection and laboratory testing for evidence of HIV infection have made the United States blood supply safer than ever. While appreciative and supportive of the desire of potential blood donors to contribute to the health of others, FDA’s first obligation is to assure the safety of the blood supply and protect the health of blood recipients.
    * Men who have sex with men also have an increased risk of having other infections that can be transmitted to others by blood transfusion. For example, infection with the Hepatitis B virus is about 5-6 times more common and Hepatitis C virus infections are about 2 times more common in men who have sex with other men than in the general population. Additionally, men who have sex with men have an increased incidence and prevalence of Human Herpes Virus-8 (HHV-8). HHV-8 causes a cancer called Kaposi’s sarcoma in immunocompromised individuals.

    What is self-deferral?

    Self-deferral is a process in which individuals elect not to donate because they identify themselves as having characteristics that place them at potentially higher risk of carrying a transfusion transmissible disease. FDA uses self-deferral as part of a system to protect the blood supply. This system starts by informing donors about the risk of transmitting infectious diseases. Then, potential donors are asked questions about their health and certain behaviors and other factors (like travel and past transfusions) that increase their risk of infection. Screening questions help people, even those who feel well, to identify themselves as potentially at higher risk for transmitting infectious diseases. Screening questions allow individuals to self defer, rather than unknowingly donating blood that may be infected.

    Is FDA’s policy of excluding MSM blood donors discriminatory?

    FDA’s deferral policy is based on the documented increased risk of certain transfusion transmissible infections, such as HIV, associated with male-to-male sex and is not based on any judgment concerning the donor’s sexual orientation.

    Male to male sex has been associated with an increased risk of HIV infection at least since 1977. Surveillance data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that men who have sex with men and would be likely to donate have a HIV prevalence that is at present over 15 fold higher than the general population, and over 2000 fold higher than current repeat blood donors (i.e., those who have been negatively screened and tested) in the USA. MSM continue to account for the largest number of people newly infected with HIV.

    Men who have sex with men also have an increased risk of having other infections that can be transmitted to others by blood transfusion.

    What about men who have had a low number of partners, practice safe sex, or who are currently in monogamous relationships?

    Having had a low number of partners is known to decrease the risk of HIV infection. However, to date, no donor eligibility questions have been shown to reliably identify a subset of MSM (e.g., based on monogamy or safe sexual practices) who do not still have a substantially increased rate of HIV infection compared to the general population or currently accepted blood donors. In the future, improved questionnaires may be helpful to better select safe donors, but this cannot be assumed without evidence.

    Are there other donors who have increased risks of HIV or other infections who, as a result, are also excluded from donating blood?

    Intravenous drug abusers are excluded from giving blood because they have prevalence rates of HIV, HBV, HCV and HTLV that are much higher than the general population. People who have received transplants of animal tissue or organs are excluded from giving blood because of the still largely unknown risks of transmitting unknown or emerging pathogens harbored by the animal donors. People who have recently traveled to or lived abroad in certain countries may be excluded because they are at risk for transmitting agents such as malaria or variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (vCJD). People who have engaged in sex in return for money or drugs are also excluded because they are at increased risk for transmitting HIV and other blood-borne infections.

    Why are some people, such as heterosexuals with multiple partners, allowed to donate blood despite increased risk for transmitting HIV and hepatitis?

    Current scientific data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate that, as a group, men who have sex with other men are at a higher risk for transmitting infectious diseases or HIV than are individuals in other risk categories. While statistics indicate a rising infection rate among young heterosexual women, their overall rate of HIV infection remains much lower than in men who have sex with other men. For information on HIV-related statistics and trends, go to CDC’s HIV/AIDS Statistics and Surveillance web page.

    Isn’t the HIV test accurate enough to identify all HIV positive blood donors?

    HIV tests currently in use are highly accurate, but still cannot detect HIV 100% of the time. It is estimated that the HIV risk from a unit of blood has been reduced to about 1 per 2 million in the USA, almost exclusively from so called “window period” donations. The “window period” exists very early after infection, where even current HIV testing methods cannot detect all infections. During this time, a person is infected with HIV, but may not have made enough virus or developed enough antibodies to be detected by available tests. For this reason, a person could test negative, even when they are actually HIV positive and infectious. Therefore, blood donors are not only tested but are also asked questions about behaviors that increase their risk of HIV infection.

    Collection of blood from persons with an increased risk of HIV infection also presents an added risk to transfusion recipients due to the possibility that blood may be accidentally given to a patient in error either before testing is completed or following a positive test. Such medical errors occur very rarely, but given that there are over 20 million transfusions every year, in the USA, they can occur. For these reasons, FDA uses a multi-layered approach to blood safety including pre-donation deferral of potential donors based on risk behaviors and then screening of the donated blood with sensitive tests for infectious agents such as HIV-1, HIV-2, HCV, HBV and HTLV-I/II.

    How long has FDA had this MSM policy?

    FDA’s policies on donor deferral for history of male sex with males date back to 1983, when the risk of AIDS from transfusion was first recognized. Our current policy has been in place since 1992.

    FDA has modified its blood donor policy as new scientific data and more accurate tests for HIV and hepatitis became available. Today, the risk of getting HIV from a blood transfusion has been reduced to about one per two million units of blood transfused. The risk of hepatitis C is about the same as for HIV, while the risk of hepatitis B is somewhat higher.

    Doesn’t the policy eliminate healthy donors at a time when more donors are needed because of blood shortages?

    FDA realizes that this policy will defer many healthy donors. However, FDA’s MSM policy minimizes even the small risk of getting infectious diseases such as HIV or hepatitis through a blood transfusion.

    Would FDA ever consider changing the policy?

    FDA scientists continue to monitor the scientific literature and to consult with experts in CDC, NIH and other agencies. FDA will continue to publicly revisit the current deferral policy as new information becomes available.

    On March 8, 2006, FDA conducted a workshop entitled “Behavior-based donor deferrals in the Nucleic Acid Test (NAT) era”. The workshop addressed scientific challenges, opportunities, and risk based donor deferral policies relevant to the protection of the blood supply from transfusion transmissible diseases, seeking input on this topic. Participants were given the opportunity to provide scientific data that could support revising FDA’s MSM deferral. The workshop provided a very active, open and broad-based scientific dialogue concerning current behavior-based deferrals and explored other options that may be considered and the data needed to evaluate them.

    FDA’s primary responsibility is to enhance blood safety and protect blood recipients. Therefore FDA would change this policy only if supported by scientific data showing that a change in policy would not present a significant and preventable risk to blood recipients. Scientific evidence has not yet been provided to FDA that shows that blood donated by MSM or a subgroup of these potential donors, is as safe as blood from currently accepted donors.

    FDA remains willing to consider new approaches to donor screening and testing, provided those approaches assure that blood recipients are not placed at an increased risk of HIV or other transfusion transmitted diseases.

    1. Germain, M., Remis, R.S., and Delage, G. The risks and benefits of accepting men who have had sex with men as blood donors. Transfusion 2003; 43:25-33.
    2. Busch MP, Glynn SA, Stramer SL, Strong DM, Caglioti S, Wright DJ, Pappalardo B, Kleinman SH; NHLBI-REDS NAT Study Group. A new strategy for estimating risks of transfusion-transmitted viral infections based on rates of detection of recently infected donors. Transfusion 2005, 45:254-264
    3. Presentation at FDA Blood Products Advisory Committee Meeting, September 2000.
    4. Soldan, K. and Sinka, K. Evaluation of the de-selection of men who have had sex with men from blood donation in England. Vox Sanguinis 2003; 84:265-273.

    Related Information
    * FDA Workshop on Behavior-Based Donor Deferrals in the NAT Era (PDF – 432KB)1
    * Infectious Disease Tests2

    -Related Links
    * CDC HIV/AIDS Statistics and Surveillance3

    Contact Us
    Consumer Affairs Branch (CBER)
    * (800) 835-4709
    * (301) 827-1800
    * [email protected]

    Division of Communication and Consumer Affairs
    Office of Communication, Outreach and Development
    Food and Drug Administration
    1401 Rockville Pike
    Suite 200N/HFM-47
    Rockville, MD 20852-1448

  • Mina

    This is a terrible ban. I live in Canada and I am female. I cannot donate blood because I had sex with a guy who had sex with another guy. Even though we since have had hiv/aids tests and him having sex with another guy once happened 10 years ago, they still won’t allow me to donate.

  • Mina

    @Mina: And we had protected sex

  • EWE

    We should donate blood, lie about our orientation and then insist they prosecute all of us for being gay blood donators after it’s done. I dare the US government to incarcerate large groups of gay people for contributing to the promotion and wellbeing of an emergency healthcare system.

  • EWE

    I personally think that most gay americans are in the closet anyway so i do not see how this policy makes one ounce of sense to anyone but overreacting freeper wingfucks.

  • Tom

    Sodomy is disguisting. We don’t want receive blood from people who claim to penetrate their rectums by others. It is discrimination of our personal feelings. Would you gays take blood from necrophile? or zoofile? So you know now why gays can not donate blood. The Law cares about everybody, not just about gays.

  • Erick

    Hyponyms (each of the following is a kind of “sexual perversion”):

    paraphilia (abnormal sexual activity)

    anal intercourse; anal sex; buggery; sodomy (intercourse via the anus, committed by a man with a man or woman)

    … and that is why we don’t want your dirty sexually perverted blood

  • Bryan

    I would easily lie, considering blood donation is not something you’re doing for yourself. It is about giving to someone who NEEDS the blood to live. Anyone who wouldn’t lie is selfish because life is more important than feeling ostracized.

  • Erick

    Hi. Id like to apologise for my comments above. Im sorry. I was having bad days. Its not me. Believe me. Yes, you are right. There is something strange that you cannot donate blood. I’m blood a donator and I’m hetero.
    If we are all equal why everybody can’t donate blood? The more blood and bone marrow in a bank the more people we can save.
    Take care everybody!
    Sorry once again

    Greetings from Germany!

  • Edwardian

    What about me? I’m not gay, but I experimented when I was younger. That was 17 years ago. I’ve had multiple tests since then, for all the STDs. So even though I know I’m clean, and I have one partner only, and we’re both tested regularly, I can’t give blood?

    2nd question, what is “sex”? Does the FDA define that? Is kissing another man considered sexual contact? Blowing him? Getting blown? I’ve never had anal sex, top or bottom, so am I still good?

    I DO believe that 2 wrongs make a right. If I know I’m clean, and they test my blood anyway, then who am I to disqualify myself from saving someone’s life? At the same time, I don’t like to be dishonest in my life, so I’m very conflicted.

    It’s a bunch of bullshit, and it’s a discriminatory policy.

  • will

    (Yah i know my spellings bad)
    Blood is in high demand and it is in everyones best intrest to have as many healthy donors as possible. But screen methods now are effective after 16-21 days of hiv exposure, also screen methods are very very accuret when administered correctly (meaning done after 21 days). Also if we are banned high risk populations from giving blood hispanic (by that i mean anyone of south or central americain desent and african american should also be banned from giving blood. i dont mean to offened anyone (or be racist) but those two groups by percent have a majority of the hiv and aids cases in the usa. Also staight women shouldnt be able to give blood because they also have a high rate of hiv infection. So by this point after eliminating all possible groups that have higher then average rates of hiv and aids the only people left that can donate blood are straight white and asain males and lesbians. Also just for the record lesbains are one of the least likely groups to have hiv, aids or other stds. So by the end of this there is a fairly small part of the population that can donate blood. Then with all the other reasons you cant donate blood the, white and asain staight males and lesbain who use introveanus drugs or are at risk for malaria exposure cant donate so by the end of removing high risk groups there is a very small part of the populate that can donate. Gays should be able to donate and with sex education and hiv testing aids rates in the gay community are falling. the policy is still in place because of people still having stigmas around homosexaulity. People really need to become more educated on issues like this or risk the chance that when they need blood for a procedger that there wont be enough blood avaible.

  • Jaszmin

    If a man who had sex with another man is banned from giving blood because of the high percentages of HIV infected cases resulting…..what about the African American population? There are high percentages there too….but that would be racist, right? This could go on and on. They need to change this because it is RIDICULOUS!

  • Guy

    I was reading these posts…and the posts of Lyssa and Alfredo Munoz made me mad at first (because they show close mindedness at it’s peak).
    But then the more they posted, the more I started to laugh because their stupidity became even more obvious. It’s is so obvious that their so called emotions (and hatres) are already blinding their judgement.

    Oh my God! Lying is wrong….Not if you are saving a life dumbass. No sense of logic whatsoever. When people have to use words like “fags” to get their points across, it already shows their low level of intellect.

    I am not even gay, I am just a bi curious guy who was honest while getting ready to give blood and couldn’t do it because I have had oral sex with a guy a couple of months ago (despite tested clean). So a woman can sleep around with 6 men in 2 months and still give blood. A man can sleep with 10 girls and still give blood. But when a guy experiments with one guy in a year, he can’t.

    I also hear a lot about the window period thing…well HIV does spread around when men and women get together as well.The whole window period applies to ALL people who are sleeping around. Actually most gay guys at college get tested more often than straight guys despite they sleep around less (yes I am in an army town and these guys get “vajajays” everyday haha.

    The whole policy stands on no logic. They should just ask if you got tested Yes or No and ask about your sexual behavior, not just your orientation. I mean the blood has to be tested afterwords anyway (if they are not running tests, then they should be weary because a lot of straight people lie too. Many girls would not say they had 10 sexual partners in the past month).

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