Lifting of Gay Blood Donor Ban Would Boost Supply by 219,000 Pints

A new report (PDF) from the Williams Institute concludes that the lifting of the FDA ban on blood donation by gay men would increase the nation's blood supply by more than 200,000 pints a year:

Blood "If the current MSM ban were completely lifted, we estimate that an additional 130,150 men would likely donate 219,200 additional pints of blood each year.
If MSM who have not had sexual contact with another man in the past twelve months were permitted to donate, we estimate that 53,269 additional men are likely to donate 89,716 pints each year. If MSM who have not had sexual contact with another man in the past five years were permitted to donate, we estimate that 42,286 additional men would make 71,218 blood donations."

A lifting of the ban will soon be considered: "The Federal Advisory Committee on Blood Safety and Availability will consider the issue in meetings June 10 and 11 in Rockville, Maryland. The committee makes recommendations to the secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees the FDA."


  1. Jason says

    I would certainly donate again if eligible, and I have O Negative blood. Anyone can receive O Negative, so I used to always get letters and phone calls urging me to donate until I told them about the gay, that is!

  2. Gayprof says

    I will never donate blood to anyone other than other gay men and my family/friends. This discriminatory ban should have been lifted years ago. Bitter? Of course. And rightfully so.

  3. TANK says

    I can understand the ban given the rate of hiv/aids infections amongst msm in this country. conditionally, it does raise the probability of being infected with tainted blood.

  4. Dave says

    Tank, you know that blood is screened and stored and screened again before distribution, right? Straight people are more prone to engaging in unprotected sex anyway, how come there is no ban on them?

  5. TANK says

    while heterosexual people may be more prone to engage in unprotected sex, their risk of seroconversion is substantially lower than MSM (men who have sex with men). That’s because per capita, in the united states, there’s a much higher seroconversion rate amongst MSM than amongst the general population. And yes, samples of blood are screend (they don’t screen every drop–that would be insanely inefficient)…so there is a chance that it could slip under the radar, and the risk is heightened by allowing MSM to donate…because a lot of them don’t even know that they’re infected.

  6. Garst says

    Didn’t the Red Cross imply that they’d look the other way as long as you said you’ve never slept with a gay/bi man as long you honestly believe you’re not putting other’s health at risk?

  7. Felix says

    I tried to donate blood just today. And then they gave me this questionnaire and asked if I ever had sex with another man.

    I just couldn’t lie! Ive only had intercourse with one man only in my life, he was my bf at the time and I was in love with him, we were committed and practiced safe sex…they just don’t care weather I am more or less promiscuous than the average straight donor!

  8. Maxcor says

    Yes, they should ban those who participate in unsafe sex practices and do away with the blanket ban. In australia, you can donate so long as you haven’t had intercourse with men in the past 12 months, but even now, they’re thinking of changing the ban to those who practice unsafe sex.

  9. TANK says

    No, that’s too risky. “Unsafe sex” has a lot of meanings to a lot of people. It’s far form cut and dry, and asking people if they use condoms every time they have sex is going to be met with the same kind of deceptions that are currently used by people. This is just too vital a resource to be politically correct about.

  10. GregV says

    “”Unsafe sex” has a lot of meanings to a lot of people.”

    Tank, the word “sex” also has a lot of meanings to a lot of people. I think, for example, if one person gets jerked off by another, (which is very safe regarding HIV and far safer than penis-in-vagina coitus), then they have “had sex.”
    I’ve known women who would say “I’m a virgin. I’ve never had sex; I only do anal.” (As far as I’m concerned, that’s sex, too).
    And remember the way Bill Clinton decided when he got a blow job, Monica was having sex with him but he wasn’t having sex with her?
    The whole question as it exists (Have you had sex with a man since 1977?) not only ignores the difference between sex which is 100% safe and sex which is risky, but it also throws out a virtually meaningless question since any given individual will define “having sex” as whatever he likes to imagine that means.

    Yes, PER CAPITA, there is more HIV among MSM than among MSW. But it is really a subsegment of MSM (i.e. those MSM mho have unsafe sex) who are at high risk; SOME MSM who have only safe sex with other men are at zero risk of HIV infection. It does not protect anybody to refuse their blood donations.

  11. TANK says

    I wasn’t alive in ’77, thankfully. And no, “safe sex” is not 100% risk free. Plenty of people have seroconverted practicing “safe sex”. But, it’s far less risky than unprotected sex. A subsegment of MSM it may be, but HIV is on the rise in general amongst that demographic (MSM) in the u.s. Let’s not overlook that fact. Given that it’s on the rise, it is more likely that it occurs (unsafe sex amongst MSM) than this “subsegment” you’re referring to as “high risk” (it’s clearly bigger than the tweaker PNP druggy set, for example). And since when does safe sex amongst MSM confer zero probability of seroconversion? That’s rubbish. And, if effective in deterring MSM from donating blood, the ban does lessen the chance of an infected blood supply.

    The real question that this comes down to is whether it’s worth the risk to open the blood supply to that demographic. That is, will the benefit derived from an increase in the general blood supply outweigh the cost of the occasional infection in terms of lives saved and assisted? This can be answered.

  12. Dave says

    You know what other group is considered at elevated risk for seroconversion? Men who employ female sex workers. Another group is women who have sex with MSM.

    Guess how long *their* bans are for, Tank. Wait, don’t. I’ll save you the trouble. It’s one year.

    Now, do you know know how many people tested for HIV one year after having sex of any kind have tested false negative with modern tests (excluding those on antiretroviral treatment, who would automatically be excluded anyway)? Again, I’ll save you the trouble. We still haven’t found that case. In fact, 99% of the time, the simplest tests are accurate within 3 months.

    Personally, I think it should be a multi-part question to identify high-risk behavior, not groups:

    “How many sexual partners have you had within the past year?”

    “How many partners have you practiced penetrative sex without the use of a latex or polyurethane condom within the past year?”

    “If greater than 0, how long ago was your most recent penetrative sex act?”

    “How many times within the past year have you been tested for HIV? Syphilis? HPV?”

    Curiously, none of the surveys that check for HIV seroconversion rates seem to ask these rather pertinent questions.

    Sure, the questions are uncomfortable for some, but frankly, they’re being asked tons of embarrassing questions anyway and this would reduce the false-positive rate without increasing the false-negative rate for donor exclusion.

    It would also raise awareness among the entire adult population of the importance of using the right kind of condom AND of testing for STD’s.