It's Outrageous That Gay Men Can't Donate Blood

Nightclub massacre casts spotlight on FDA rules
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 13, 2016 12:03 PM CDT
It's Outrageous That Gay Men Can't Donate Blood
Volunteers waiting to donate blood at a blood bank watch President Barack Obama deliver remarks on a TV after a shooting involving multiple fatalities at a nightclub, Sunday, June 12, 2016, in Orlando, Fla.   (AP Photo/John Raoux)

In the wake of the Pulse Orlando massacre, many in the LGBT community want to do something to help victims and to remember the dozens of lives lost at the LGBT nightclub—but for many of those looking to help, donating blood is not an option. Though the FDA recently lifted the lifetime ban on blood donations from gay and bisexual men, those men must still go a full year without having sex with another man in order to be eligible to donate. This is still, effectively, a "ban on gay blood," and an "unjustified" one at that, writes John Paul Brammer in the Guardian. The ban was originally put in place in response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, but today, HIV-positive donors can easily be screened out. Other countries have already done away with their own bans, and the American Medical Association called the US ban discriminatory in 2013.

"It is an outrage that our blood can be spilled but not donated. It is an outrage that, despite the facts and despite calls to lift the ban from experts across the country, homophobia and gay panic keeps it in place," Brammer writes. He's far from the only one speaking out: CNN and Time note the "outraged" responses on Twitter, with people calling for an end to the ban. The Washington Post notes that critics of the ban say a waiting period for gay men should be no longer than 30 days, since HIV testing can detect the virus soon after infection. On Slate, Mark Joseph Stern writes, "Heterosexual people who have unprotected sex with multiple anonymous partners are permitted to donate at any time. The de facto ban on gay blood donation is utterly unsupported by science and has been abolished by other countries—but the FDA remains extraordinarily hesitant to loosen rules on gay blood donation." (More Pulse Orlando shooting stories.)

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