HHS Committee Votes to Retain Ban on Gay Blood Donation

After two days of hearings, by a vote of 9-6, the HHS Advisory Committee on Blood Safety and Availability has voted against recommending lifting the FDA ban on blood donation by gay men.

Against all science. Outrageous.

The current policy bars any man who has had sex with a man since 1977 from giving blood.


  1. Brad says

    So… Let me get this straight. Organ donation is just dandy, but blood donation continues to be a risk?? Insanity.

  2. Paul R says

    Morons. As though all donated blood isn’t thoroughly screened. This is Bigotry 101.

  3. Steve says

    I agree with Paul – they’re morons.

    As if all those guys on the DL in the military are going to *say* they’ve had sex with a man. Hah.

  4. missanthrope says


    And it’s not only gay people touched by this, Trans people are also barred from donating blood since we’re “gay” too in the eyes of pols.

  5. Observer1000 says

    Actually, this is a good thing. Even though all the comments above are correct this is the US of A and you can be rest assured that the so-called religious folks would have used this to scare people.

  6. g_whiz says

    I remember when I first was made aware of this rule. I was a junior in college, and had some time between classes. Wanted to do my part. Only to read that clause, be mildly offended and explained “Well…I’ve only done it the one time…and there were condoms. Is this a joke?” The lab tech didn’t find any point in sympathy. I left heated and brought it up in my sociology class. Caused an interesting debate at least.

  7. ColinATL says

    It’s not so much bigotry, guys. These health scientists think they’re playing a probability game. They think that by excluding gay men, they are lowering the chances that HIV-infected blood gets through. The problem is that all the people who are honest enough to answer truthfully about having sex with men are the same ones who are likely to know their own HIV status. I know mine, clear as day, and yet I cannot give. But the closet case down the road doesn’t know his status, and donates by lying on the questionnaire. Who is THAT benefitting? It’s junk science because the screening tools are so subject to fraud.

  8. veg says

    No matter what anyone says, being LGBTQQI* is the final threshold of civil rights on this planet.

    In most civilized countries (give or take a few countries that grant some rights and protections), unlike all other identities (women and racial minorities, for example), LGBTQQI people cannot give blood, marry and receive the same benefits of marriage as heterosexuals, serve openly in the military, work openly at a slew of jobs, be protected from gender discrimination in a host of situations and more.

    *LGBTQQI: lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, and intersex

  9. DD says

    I still don’t see why this is such a big deal. If they don’t want our blood, then fuck them.

  10. Dairyqueen says

    Oh well their loss. I would love to donate my HIV-neg blood which is a rare type that can be given to infants due its purity, but because I had gay sex after 1977 no dice. It kills me that we are still being banned when HIV is in every culture and sexuality. Don’t come crying to me when there is a major shortage due to some horrific disaster that will happen here in the US.

  11. uflyguy says

    It’s a big deal because there are a lot of guys who would donate and someone is missing out on possibly having their life saved because of this.

    I still dont see how they can honestly say its not good for someone who is -, has been in a stable, monogamous relationship for 6 years to not give, but someone who is het, had sex last week with 5 different women is ok (of course until they’re screened.) ???

  12. Jeff says

    Well of course they don’t want gay blood, we bleed acid that burns everything it touches, just like Aliens…don’t we?…or is that just me?

  13. Dave says

    Who cares, I was using it anyway. I don’t want to give blood for fear it might save one of their lives. Why are we fighting for the right to give our blood? Fuck them. For that matter why do we want to “serve” in their military? So we can learn to kill and maim? Be killed or disabled and mistreated when we return home to an obese illiterate nation of morons? Let them fight their own stupid wars and when they need blood let them figure it out. You could not pay me enough to give my AB Negative blood to the general public. It could save a Republican.

  14. William says

    great news for straight high school kids that participate in weekly orgies (I watch Law in order SVU, happens all the time….) with dozens of partners, or “straight” men on the downlow meeting up with prostitutes and god knows hat else with ZERO knowlege of their HIV status or history of sexual partners, etc. Our nation’s blood supply IS truly in danger. Now.

  15. BreckRoy says

    Give blood anyway if you know with certainty your blood is healthy. This is ESPECIALLY true if you are an “O” type blood. All blood is screened anyway. I know there is the principle that “if they don’t want it, fine they won’t get it” or “I refuse to lie to them when they ask” BUT “they” and “them” is not the person dying because there isn’t enough available blood in a tragic, emergency situation. Saving a life and protecting life (the REAL “pro-life”) is something we as a community celebrate. If you are “O,” especially, and healthy, please do not stop donating blood. Donate and save lives and, like Service members who serve and defend our country because it’s the right thing to do despite the fact that there are people who don’t want them there. SAVING LIVES trumps discrimination. Please keep donating.

  16. Disgusted American says


  17. brian says

    We should be able to give our own gay blood for other gays. Create our own little supply. I’d rather get mine from a gay anyway, as I’m sure most of us would. Imagine a big shot of neanderthal religious zealot rushing through your veins. No thanks…

  18. gayalltheway says

    Like many laws and policies that discriminate against LGBT people, this ban only encourages people to lie. I agree with what @ColinATL said that for many closeted gay men (specifically) who are married to women can donate blood even though they are at higher risks of contracting HIV for having sex with multiple, random and anonymous men.

    Similarly, not allowing LGBT US citizens and permanent residents to sponsor their foreign-born same-sex partners/spouses will only ‘force’ them to lie and commit marriage fraud – i.e. setting up fraud marriage with opposite sex people in order for them to get into the country to be with their partners/spouses.

    DADT – force LGBT people to lie about their sexuality in order to serve their country and protect the people who vote for their rights to be taken away, etc.

    The list goes on and on..

    When will “they” wake up and face reality?

  19. Keith says

    Could not all of us over the age of 33 just say we haven’t had sex with a man since 1977, even though we’re LGBTQQI? When they ask about it, our reply should merely be, “Prove that I haven’t had sex with a man since 1977.” The burden should be on them, not us.

  20. Steve says

    What’s so bad is we can’t even donate blood for our OWN use. I had to have a minor surgery recently, and just in case I donated blood for my personal use during the surgery. I’ve done this before and it has never been an issue. Go in early, donate the blood, and if I need it it’s there. No chance of rejection, it’s the right type, and no strain on the blood supply. This time though, I was told that those rules applied even if I was donating for myself. So, basically, blood I donated for personal use was a danger to myself because I have had sex with a man in my lifetime. Medical morons.

  21. Jay Jonson says

    How silly to think bigots would care about science. A little ACT UP direct action might change their minds.

  22. Dusty says

    If you really want to give blood, you can just lie and still donate. The silly law is just a slap in the face.

  23. JimmyJamesPDX says

    Here’s an “ACT UP direct action” to consider: Give blood anyway. If you know you’re HIV-negative, why not just lie on that one question? It’s ridiculous that promiscuous heterosexuals are allowed to give, but queers who practice safe sex are banned.

  24. Christopher says

    The HRC has more information. They say the committee didn’t feel like they had enough information. They did acknowledge though that the current policy needs to be changed. I’m hoping that means that they just couldn’t agree on a criteria for low-risk gay man. Regardless, this isn’t over. It’s just more stalling.

  25. James says

    The interesting thing is, the CDC recognizes that 46% of all new HIV cases are in African Americans. Perhaps the FDA should also consider African Americans from donating blood?

    Yeah, ok.

  26. Sean says

    The HRC is just trying to mitigate another epic fail for them.

    The vote was a huge surprise. All the discussions indicated board members were agreeable to changing the current policy. What happened is that people were loath to voice their prejudices but voted them anyway.

  27. says

    It might have already been mentioned in response to Brad’s post. But MSM are not allowed to donate organs either. We can be organ donors on our drivers licenses, but if they find out a man has had sex with another man since 1977 our organs are disposed of and not given to those in need.

  28. homoDM says

    I had heard there was a critical shortage in the nation’s blood supply. Huh. Guess I heard wrong.

  29. Bill says

    I am type O neg, which means that I’m a universal donor, and cmv neg, which means that my blood can be given to neonates. I gave blood regularly until these rules were put into effect, and then I stopped, because (1) I didn’t want to lie, and (2) I would have felt horribly if my blood infected someone. If they changed the rules, I’d go back to regular donation in a heartbeat.

  30. Bryan says

    Apparently I have some sort of rare blood type that the local blood bank is always in need of. I always tell them “I’d love to donate, but I’m not allowed to do so! Sorry!”

  31. Andrew says

    Has anybody come across the voting records to see which members of the advisory committee voted which way?

  32. galore says

    Problem is that if they lift the ban and then there is the inevitable HIV scandal that gets traced back to a gay blood donor, the HHS committee members would be in deep trouble!

    That said, I don’t feel bad due to this discrimination. It is *my* blood and I’m glad they don’t want it – I also wouldn’t want to help some stupid sick homophobe with my blood.

  33. says

    Can you please post a breakdown of the votes? Being outraged is fine and good, but only if we target that outrage in productive ways. We need to be harassing the people who voted against this change, and we need to talk to our own representation to ask why on earth bigots were allowed on this committee.

  34. poloballs says

    Echoing ColinATL, doesn’t the official reason for the ban come down to probability? Current HIV screening will miss only 1 in a million, but if the Red Cross collects 20 million units then statistically you could be exposing up to 20 people? And the lifetime deferral applies to other groups besides MSM, like IV drug users, being paid for sex, or being born in Africa. So is it really a clear case of bigotry?

    I’m not asking that rhetorically, I’m honestly struggling to understand this issue. I’m straight, but 5 years ago blood donated by total strangers saved my life, and I’ll forever champion the cause of blood donations. I’d LOVE for another healthy group to be added to the blood supply. I also abhor bigotry, but the FDA argument about simply excluding high risk groups seems legit. What am I missing? Is the FDA overstating the HIV risk for MSM, or understating the efficacy of HIV screening?

  35. Kb says

    I wonder if anyone of these “straight” politicians that have been caught in a “gay” sex scandal have ever given blood.

    Or imagine a famous person dying and the true blood match is a person who has had sex with a man since 1977 and that person say’s I cannot give you my blood. You will have to die.

    Not to mention the countless people that just don’t check that little box on the information sheet.

  36. jay says


    The highly sensitive NAT blood screening has a stated 1 in 2.5 million false negative rate–so you are a little off on that.

    And even with many people who do not know their statuses for sure donating, “the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found no evidence of any HIV transmission related to blood transfusions between 2002 and 2007.”

    People don’t tend to avoid air or car travel because crashes sometimes occur. the chance of hiv transmission via blood donation is very, very rare.

  37. Dustin Thu says


    And it’s not only gay people touched by this, Trans people are also barred from donating blood since we’re “gay” too in the eyes of pols. ”

    You’re wrong. Trans, dykes, virgin fags can all donate blood. It’s only if you’ve had anal sex (gay, straight, bi, rape).
    Funny how we’re all upset about not giving blood, but we’ll all be first in line to receive good, clean blood should the need arise. Fucking hyprocrites.