September 17th, 2011

Whether the blood-donation ban lasts a year or a lifetime, it is still inherently biased, because it makes assumptions about an entire population without asking questions about individual behavior. The 12-month deferral doesn’t take into account whether men are having sex with men using a condom or without. It doesn’t separate those who are monogamous from those who engage in casual sex with strangers. It puts a gay, HIV-free man in a decades-long monogamous relationship in the same high-risk category as a heterosexual man who has unprotected sex with prostitutes and intravenous drug users. The new regulation is based on the same misguided assumption as the old one: That gay sex equals risky sex.

A better method of screening out risky donations, activists argue, is to ask potential donors for more details about their individual sexual behaviors. Others suggest that all donors, regardless of sexual orientation, should undergo the same type of questioning.