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FDA Lifting Of Ban On Gay Blood Donors Doesn't Go Far Enough, Activists Say

Malcolm Griffes
In August in Seattle, Holly Mitchell and Collin Webb participated in an event pushing to overturn FDA ban on gay blood donors.

The Food and Drug Administration FDA is proposing ending the lifetime ban on gay blood donors. But even if such is the case, there would still be restrictions. And that disappoints activists who’ve been pushing for change.

Under the new rules recommended by the FDA, gay and bisexual men wouldn’t be prohibited outright from giving blood, as is the case now. Rather, if they swore they hadn’t had sex with another man in the previous year, they would be allowed to donate blood.

Randall Russell directs Lifelong, a Seattle-based organization fighting to end AIDS. He says the policy is still unfairly discriminatory.  

“If I am a female who might have had five sexual partners in the last 12 months, I’m not ruled out from giving blood, and that person may actually be a higher risk than a person who is monogamously in a relationship with another man,” Russell said.

And, he points out, all blood is already tested for infectious diseases such as HIV before it’s used.

Russell does call the move by the FDA to allow some gay men to donate blood "a step in the right direction."

Paula is a former host, reporter and producer who retired from KNKX in 2021. She joined the station in 1989 as All Things Considered host and covered the Law and Justice beat for 15 years. Paula grew up in Idaho and, prior to KNKX, worked in public radio and television in Boise, San Francisco and upstate New York.