Can Gay Men Give Blood?
Long story short: yes, they can.
However, there’s a catch: the current guidelines (of major countries) state that gay individuals should abstain from intercourse for three or more months prior to the donation. In some countries, the eligibility criteria are more deaden, so much so that the deferral period for MSM is more than a year. Not to mention, in some countries — gay men are not allowed to donate blood at all.
The deferral period, as indicated, differs from country to country.
At the time of writing, countries like the United States, United Kingdom, Northern Ireland, and Australia have the least refrain and allow gay individuals to donate blood who have not had sex in the past three months. But most of these countries do not make it clear whether an individual taking Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) has the same time restrictions or more. However, in the case of Australia, the rules are more clear and state that the individual taking such drugs will not be allowed to donate blood up to 12 months of having sex.
Moreover, countries like Austria, France, and others have a 12 months wait period in comparison to before mentioned. Additionally, it is best not to comment on countries like Brazil. As for now, have no restrictions on gay people for donating blood as well as non-gay people. However, the debate is still on, and it can even go to full ban if the bill passes in the next session.
History of Gay Blood Donation
Talking about the US alone, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) back in 1977 passed a bill barring men having sex with other men (MSM), or gay men from donating blood forever. It all started because of the infamous AIDS virus back then. During the initial body screening, scientists detected new infections like licensure in gay men; however, much the speculation that whether it is bad or not is much for debate. Nonetheless, the political pressure from Congress passed a bill specifying that MSM is not eligible to donate blood. Note that — during the validation of the bill in Congress, 25 Stated in the US have laws mentioning “Sexual Practices is a criminal offenсe.” But after the pressure from blood bankers asking to validate the statement of gay blood being infectious. Moreover, pressure from the US Department of Health and Human Services questioning the gay men’s eligibility to donate blood being none. Whereas the individuals pierced with tattoos only one year is highly questionable, the FDA reconsidered their bill and allowed gay men to donate blood but with many restrictions.
Today, in the majority of the countries like Malaysia and Croatia, gay men’s right to donate blood still sees a lifelong ban and is not likely to change, given the strict laws of the countries regarding gay individuals. Moreover, countries like India — where the laws regarding gay men have recently changed, have yet to reconsider such a decision.
3-Month Wait After Sex
We all know that donating blood is critical for public health. In some cases, it is the only way to save the life of an individual. However, these limitations exist to prevent recently acquired infections through intercourse.
The ban started after the infamous AIDS disease back in the 1980s. The reason: doctors were unsure about the disease itself. Their speculations were that the HIV/AIDS virus traveled via blood and could be passed from an individual to an individual during sex. And given that the gay men have sex with multiple partners, they were unsuitable to donate blood. But it was much to do with politics rather than with science when it came to the eligibility of gay men to donate blood.
If you turn the pages of the US laws themselves, you will find that the countries earlier had a lifelong ban when it came to gay men’s eligibility to donate blood. But after years of fighting and numerous revision of the policies, the US government allowed gay individuals to donate blood on a condition of refraining from sex till three months prior to be eligible to donate blood.
Even now, these restrictions exist because there is a good chance of gay men transmitting unspecified diseases. Yes, blood banks review and test each unit individually, but the political argument lies in “unknown diseases being passed.”
Blood Donation Rules
Regardless of gender, all blood donors must meet certain FDA criteria to donate their blood. Of course, the criteria differ based on the sexual orientation of individuals. For instance, in the US — the rule of the thumb for MSM is to wait for three months before donating blood, but the same is not true in heterosexuals or gay and queer women. Moreover, regulations differ from country to country. As stated earlier, countries like Croatia, Malaysia, and the middle-eastern countries have a lifelong ban on MSM blood donations.
Still, there exist some rules for all of the individuals while going for blood donations. For instance, statistics indicate that — at any given instance — only 37 percent of all the individuals are eligible to donate blood. So, the variation is because of many reasons. And not only based on the individual sexual orientation. Still, if you are gay — ensure to not have sex before prior to three months before you go to donate blood. And the other rules to donate blood for gay men remain the same as the others. For instance, if you are suffering from diseases like HIV — then you are barred. According to major countries’ laws to donate blood. There are also other things like people suffering from heart diseases will not be allowed to donate blood before six months of having a heart attack, surgery, or change of medications. But these two are only the tip of the iceberg — as per medical rules, a gay person with a stuffy nose is also not allowed to donate blood.
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