"The current lifetime deferral for men who have had sex with other men is medically and scientifically unwarranted."
-AABB, America's Blood Centers, and American Red Cross's 2006 Statement to the FDA's Blood Products Advisory Committee
Welcome to 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 Food and Drug Administration's Gay Blood Ban. Please take a moment to like us on facebook and sign these Change.org petitions: #1, #2, #3, #4, and #5 (from Red Is in the Rainbow, EqualDonor.org, All R Equal, Let Gays Give, and Banned4Life - bottom of page).
The Gay Blood Ban is an FDA policy that permanently bars any man who has had sex with a man since 1977 from donating blood. The FDA initiated the ban in the early 1980's as an emergency response to the HIV/AIDS outbreak in the United States to prevent the spread of HIV. Today, we know this emergency measure:
- Does not effectively prevent HIV positive blood, gay or straight, from entering the blood supply
- Ignores advances in HIV blood screening technology and the industry-wide implementation of blood safety operational best practices
- Disagrees with the scientific community, medical community, and blood bank industry's criticisms and proposed reforms
- Prevents otherwise-eligible, HIV negative men from donating blood
- Worsens the impact of increasingly common national blood shortages
- Reduces our nation's ability to respond to a natural disaster or terrorist attack
- Applies overbroadly to gay men based on their sexual orientation rather than on the risk level of their sexual behavior
- Fails to apply to a heterosexual's risky sexual behaviors; for example, not using condoms, having many sexual partners, having sex under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and not getting tested for HIV or other STIs
- Unnecessarily supports stigma and negative stereotypes of LGBT people
- Wastes taxpayer, blood bank, and hospital money on expensive discrimination lawsuits, settlements, and court orders
- Counters the Obama Administration's view that LGBT people deserve protected class status under the constitution
The medical community has proposed several common sense reforms to this outdated policy. Ideally, the FDA would end the gay blood ban and instead use blood donor intake questionnaires that focus on risky sexual behavior, not sexual orientation. Several other countries have reformed their blood donation policies. Their experiences show that risk-based intake questionnaires increase blood donations and blood supply safety.
Educate yourself about the many problems with the Gay Blood Ban! Please access the informational materials on our Downloads page and see what else our advocacy allies have produced through our Links page. You can find recent news about the ban here. Also, check out our advocacy in an NPR Michigan Radio story by Mark Brush.
NEWSFLASH - The FDA has taken down its policy webpage that attempts to justify donor discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. You can see a cached copy of the webpage from our files. Fox35 Orlando attributes this development to Banned4Life.org, so congratulations to Banned4Life are in order!
PUBLIC COMMENT PERIOD NOW CLOSED: The Department of Health and Human Services, which contains the FDA, issued a Federal Register Notice: Request for Information (RFI) on Design of a Pilot Operational Study To Assess Alternative Blood Donor Deferral Criteria for Men Who Have Had Sex With Other Men (MSM). The notice provides an excellent summary of current HHS/FDA policies, reform efforts, and reform proposals. You can review submitted comments at www.regulations.gov by searching for docket number HHS-OPHS-2012-0003.