The Food and Drug Administration has announced it will not lift its total ban on gay and bisexual men from giving blood donations in the US. The policy, which has been in place for more than 30 years, has been altered after being deemed discriminatory.
Each year, around 110 million blood donations are collected across the world. Despite this seemingly large number, hospitals almost always have a shortage of stock.
This is partly due to blood’s short shelf life, but also because 90 percent of individuals who are eligible to donate do not do so regularly enough, if at all. Not to mention, a large demographic of people have been prohibited from donating.
Up until now, the US Food and Drug Administration has disallowed donations from men who have sex with men (MSM) over ‘concerns that blood from individuals who have HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, would be used in transfusions.’
This policy, which was intended to prevent MSM men from donating for their entire lives, came into effect during the AIDs epidemic of the 1980s. Back then, technology to test blood for the presence of viruses was not yet available.
With this technology now accessible, there has been public debate and protest over the prevention policy, especially as Americans witnessed the UK, Brazil, Australia, and Japan modify or eliminate their own ban on taking blood donations from men who have sex with men.