Chosen Family of Michigan has been working with the American Red Cross of Southwest Michigan to advocate for the FDA to repeal the “blood ban” on men-who-have-sex-with-men (MSM) and woman who have sex with MSM.
What is the FDA Blood Ban?
The FDA Blood Ban restricts MSM and women who have sex with MSM from donating blood within 3 months of having sex. Although this used to be a lifetime ban and has gradually been reduced- most recently in 2020 due to the blood shortage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic- this ban still prohibits much of the LGBTQ+ community from donating blood.
Why was the Blood Ban created?
The ban- which used to be a lifetime restriction- was created in the midst of the AIDS epidemic, which was wrongfully branded as a “gay disease.” Despite the LGBTQ+ community not having the highest rate of HIV/AIDS in many years as well as all donated blood being tested, the stigma remains and thus the ban remains too.
What harm does the Blood Ban cause?
This ban feeds into the stigma around HIV/AIDS and wrongfully discriminates against the LGBTQ+ community.
It creates a “blanket” ban against any sexually active MSM, with no exemptions even if the person is only having sex in a committed relationship or even if they are on PrEP, such as Truvada or Descovy.
We are currently in a blood shortage. Restricting populations from donating blood prevents many people from helping to combat this shortage. It’s estimated that repealing this ban could result in an increase of blood donations by 2-4%, which could result in upwards of a million lives saved.
Is there a risk with blood donated by MSM?
MSM haven’t had the highest rate of HIV/AIDS in years. Additionally, all blood donations are tested before being given to patients. Although you can test negative for HIV for the first 1-2 weeks, a 3 month ban relies on stigma, not science. If all people were expected to abstain from sex for 2 weeks in order to compensate for the window of time where you could test negative, this would make scientific sense, rather than a 3 month restriction on only a certain population.
What can I do to help overturn this ban?
It’s important to note that this ban is an FDA policy, not a law that went through the legislative process. This means that this policy is the FDA’s responsibility to repeal. You can sign the petition to pressure the FDA to overturn this ban here.