Why can't gay men give blood? It's a question people have been asking for decades now, and the answer has very little to do with science and everything to do with prejudice. In a piece for The Huffington Post, writer Matt Baume expertly deconstructs the ignorance that's made it so hard for gay men to give blood for the last 20 years.
As Baume points out, other countries have lifted or modified similar bans, but the U.S. has held fast to a backwards view on the subject since the '80s. It was only in 2015 that the FDA modified the rule that gay men who'd had sex with another man in the last 37 years were banned from giving blood, changing it to one year. But why? It's well-known that HIV isn't limited to gay men, and it's largely irrelevant since all donated blood is tested anyway, Baume writes. Additionally, research conducted by the FDA shows that among all men who have sex with men, the rate of HIV is about 11%, and among those men who want to donate blood, the rate of HIV is .25%.
So, as Baume concludes, the ban ultimately succeeds in alienating a group that has an extremely low rate of HIV infection. But now that we know better, we can do better, right? Tom Price, Trump's nominee for head of the Department of Health and Human Services, will be overseeing the FDA, but he hasn't made any comments regarding gay men and giving blood. He's spoken out in support of insurance companies being able to deny coverage to gay patients though, so it's not looking too good.
You can read Baume's full piece here, and check out his video on the topic below.