How Allowing Gay Men To Give Blood Would Affect Donations

By Mona Chalabi
December 2, 2014

For the past 31 years, the Food and Drug Administration has prohibited blood donations from men who say they have had oral or penetrative sex with men. But that policy could change. The FDA began a two-day meeting Tuesday with an advisory panel that will review data and consider lifting the restriction.

The FDA questionnaire used to screen donors asks, “From 1977 to the present, have you had sexual contact with another male, even once?”

If a male respondent answers yes, his donation is deferred without a time limit, meaning that he is not allowed to give blood indefinitely. The FDA says the regulation is based on a concern that, as a group, men who have had sex with men (“MSM” in policy documents) have an increased risk of certain infectious diseases that can be transmitted via blood transfusion, such as HIV and hepatitis B.

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