Orlando Shooting Renews Debate Over Limits on Gay Men Donating Blood

Jun 16, 2016

By Donald G. McNeil Jr.

In the aftermath of the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Fla., 53 people were alive but wounded, many in desperate need of blood. Blood banks in the area put out a call for donors.

Gay men were ready to volunteer. Rumors even went around that blood centers in Orlando had relaxed a ban on donations from sexually active gay men.

But the rumors were false. The ban, imposed by the Food and Drug Administration, remains in place, infuriating some gay rights activists.

The agency does not permit a man who has had sex with another man in the past year to donate blood. Loosening that restriction, officials say, would greatly increase the chances of contaminating the blood supply with H.I.V. and other sexually transmitted infections.

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One comment on “Orlando Shooting Renews Debate Over Limits on Gay Men Donating Blood”

  • @OP – Orlando Shooting Renews Debate Over Limits on Gay Men Donating Blood

    I saw articles in The Guardian and at the BBC which suggested the UK NHS was considering relaxing the ban on gay donors, having partially relaxed it in 2011.


    “Donor deferral for men who have sex with men was changed from lifetime to 12 months in 2011, but four years later it is time to look again at the question. Public Health England has just undertaken an anonymous survey of donors and I am pleased that the Advisory Committee on the Safety of Blood, Tissues and Organs [Sabto] will review the issue in 2016.”

    Ellison added: “It is important to put it on the record that the blood service does not discriminate on sexual orientation. Lesbians are free to give blood and their blood donations are extremely appreciated. The deferral period is based on sexual activity, and it applies to a number of other groups other than just men who have sex with men.”

    Others who are prohibited from giving blood include those who have had sex with a commercial sex worker in the past 12 months, who have ever injected themselves with drugs, or who have been sexually active in parts of the world where HIV/Aids is very common. The policy is based on the statistical likelihood of certain groups being HIV-positive, as the virus does not show up in blood tests immediately.

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