China Lifts Ban On Lesbian Blood, But MSM Still Prohibited

PlasmaChina's communist government quietly lifted its ban on lesbians giving blood this week. Men who are sexually active with other men, however, are still prohibited from donating life saving plasma.

Via CNN:

The Chinese Ministry of Health has lifted a 14-year-old ban on lesbians donating blood in effect as of July 1.

The ban still applies to men who are sexually active with other men, but celibate homosexuals are permitted to give blood, according to the Ministry of Health's website.

The original ban, enacted in 1998, barred homosexuals of both genders from donating blood out of a fear of spreading HIV and AIDS.

"It's scientific that the policy doesn't mention homosexual identity but only fences off some who have certain sex behaviors, because AIDS is not caused by one's homosexual identity but improper sexual behavior," [lesbian activist] Xian told the Global Times.

The United States, as we know, still bans men who have sex with men from giving blood.


  1. says

    Ignoring the fact that heterosexuals are just as likely, if not more, to engage in “improper sexual behavior” is the absurdity. Testing all blood/plasma for infectious diseases is the litmus test.

  2. jason says

    The changes to the Chines law are still discriminatory and prejudicial because they assumes that anal sex between men is HIV-inducing whereas anal sex between a man and woman isn’t. Keep in mind that some lesbians engage in anal sex with men.

    This lesbian activist Xian seems homophobic towards men in referring to “improper sexual activity”. These are the types of lesbians I loathe.

  3. jason says

    What on earth is this lesbian referring to when she says “improper sexual activity”? She seems like one of these lesbians who is up herself.

    The only rule that should be applied to those giving blood is whether you are promiscuous or not. Your gender or sexual orientation should be irrelvant. HIV is not gender-specific nor is it sexual orientation-specific.

  4. Cburg says

    Looking at the epidemiology, if you are MSM then you are simply more likely to have HIV than if you are heterosexual in the developed world. The stats in London (1/7 gay men), New York (1/5 gay men) are just too high to ignore. You are running the risk of false negatives at that rate.

    The transfusion screening involves many other questions that out rule people too. Anal sex is one of them regardless of sexual orientation. I don’t see how people believe they are being prejudiced when a gay male who’s a virgin can donate as much as he wants. Clearly it’s not a matter of sexual orientation, it’s about risk management. Whilst you may be able to donate blood in the UK now, there’s a specific clause stating that you can’t have had anal sex in 1 year. Again, the homophobia is difficult to find.

    Personally I don’t feel the least bit prejudiced by not being able to donate blood, it’s good health practise. I mean, you can’t donate blood if you were in the UK during the Mad Cow’s Disease epidemic either, and no one’s calling that racist!

  5. daftpunkydavid says

    i’m with cburg on this.

    for those who squirm at the vocabulary employed by the quoted activist, as maladroit as it is, what it does get at is “risky” sexual behavior (i hate that adjective too, but that’s for another day), not homosexual behavior per se. moreover, i assume that some of her nuances may have been lost in translation.

  6. RLavigueur says

    “Clearly it’s not a matter of sexual orientation, it’s about risk management.”

    Unlike in Britain, in Canada and the USA that the question isn’t whether or not you’ve had anal sex or other high risk sex with another man in the past year, it’s whether or not you’ve had any form of sex with any man, ever, since 1967. The blanket ban can hardly be explained by anything except homophobic beliefs that all gay men engage in high risk behaviors.

    All forms of homosexual sex between men are treated by the ban as being high-risk. This despite the fact that the AABB, Red Cross and ABC have all criticized the lifetime ban as unnecessary and unhelpful.

  7. Mike8787 says

    @cburg Let me tell you why the ban doesn’t make sense. A closer look at the statistics we have give us a good idea of the risk posed to blood supply should the gay blood ban be repealed outright in the US:

    – The FDA asserts that their testing fails to correctly detect fewer than 1 in 1 million infected HIV+ donors.

    – The CDC projects that there are approximately 1.2 million individuals in the U.S. living with HIV.

    – 49% of these individuals identify as men who have sex with men.

    – 20% of these individuals were undiagnosed and unaware of their status — making them possible donors (and assuming individuals knowledgable of their status will elect not to donate).

    – The American Blood Center estimates that only 10% of eligible donors are likely to donate.

    – Furthermore, the ABC states that the average donor will donate 2 times per year.

    1.2 million x 49% x 20% x 10% x 2 = 23,250

    That is, each year, men who have sex with men who are HIV+ and unaware of their status would likely provide 23,250 donations per year.

    If the CDC is correct and the FDA has a false negative for 1 in 1 million HIV+ donations, it would take a whopping 42.5 years for one false negative to occur.

    This is with an outright repeal of the ban — should the FDA put in place a screening process based on risk behaviors, it is likely that the risk to the blood would decrease. This policy change could increase the effectiveness of the FDA policy because, applying to individuals regardless of sexual orientation, it would screen out straight, gay and otherwise indentifying individuals whose behaviors suggest a greater propensity to be at risk for HIV.

    And how many lives could donations from men who have have sex with men save in that time?

    – America’s Blood Centers projects that one blood donation can save as many as three lives.

    – There are an estimated 2,491,034 gay men in the United States.

    – Again, 10% of the population is likely to donate blood.

    2,491,034 x 10% x 3 x 42.5 years = 1,494,618

    In 42.5 years, blood donations from gay men could save as many 1,494,618 lives.

    I don’t see much logic in the policy, under these stats.

  8. says

    The FDA has responded to petitions saying that they think the ban is also justified because gay men are ‘particularly susceptible to emerging diseases.’ I think that MSM are not particularly susceptible because they are MSM, but rather because public health organizations marginalize them and discriminate against them in the provision of health care and education. Circular reasoning to justify discrimination – surprise, surprise.

    Please visit Saving Lives With Helpful Guys ( This website is an educational resource center for policy directors, civil rights activists, students, members of the medical community, and the public at large who are dedicated to safely and sensibly reforming the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Gay Blood Ban.

  9. aneas t. says

    How come it’s “lesbian” blood, and not “women who have sex with women (WSW)” blood?

    Especially since women are more likely to be bisexual/slide along the sexual orientation continuum.

  10. andrew says

    If you needed a blood transfusion and the hospital said that they had 3 pints of blood: one from a gay man, one from a lesbian woman and one from a straight man and you could choose the pint, which would you choose?

  11. says

    This is a good news that WSW are now allowed to donate blood! Though, the permanent deferral for gay men must be shorter. The United Kingdom allows gay men to donate blood should they practice safe sex or they are not diagnosed with STD in ten years period. Giving blood is a personal choice and gay men must not be prohibited from doing such, especially if they are required to undergo physical examinations to validate what they have answered in the questionnaires.

  12. darrel says

    Those who have made negative comments about Xian based on a CNN article in English are way off base. This article was undoubtedly translated from an interview in Mandarin. I know Xian and the amazing work she has done as a pioneer in the lgbt community in China. As a gay man, I greatly appreciate her leadership and sacrifice, and her overall committment to human rights. We ought not let one English word on
    CNN define who she is or what she thinks.

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