Gay Men and Blood Donations

The Red Cross peridodically gets flak for what people think is our policy of not allowing gay men to donate blood. Just today, my friends at Just Out published a blog post on this very issue. For the record, here’s the statement I posted in response:

I am an openly gay man who worked in HIV/AIDS and GLBT rights for 20 years, and am currently the Regional Executive for American Red Cross in Oregon. I agree that the lifetime ban on gay/bi men being able to donate blood is a needless, discriminatory policy adopted by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) years ago during the peak of HIV/AIDS-phobia in this country.

The American Red Cross is on public record opposing this policy (labeling it as “medically and scientifically unwarranted”) and calling on the FDA to remove the ban. Despite our vocal opposition, the FDA reaffirmed their ban just last year.

Because the FDA is the regulatory authority over the entire blood banking industry, the American Red Cross – and all blood banks in the nation – have no option at this time but to follow this policy, even while we work to change it.

The American Red Cross continues to oppose this policy, and will continue to educate the FDA and others on the need to reverse this ban.

In the meantime, we’re not letting this FDA policy stop us from reaching out to new blood donors. Read about the first-ever lesbian blood drive we conducted recently at Portland’s Q Center. Check out photos from the event here.


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