Red Cross Lifts Gay/Bi Blood Donation Restrictions

France has lifted its ban on blood donations by gay and/or bisexual men which has been in place since the early days of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.

Beginning today, more gay and bisexual men will be able to donate blood as the Red Cross will now use a more inclusive, individual risk-based assessment to determine if someone is eligible to give blood.

This replaces the decades-old policy which prohibited men who have sex with men from donating.

From CNN:

The policy was created early in the AIDS epidemic, when the US surgeon general estimated 70% of people with HIV were gay or bisexual men. At the time, blood could be screened for HIV antibodies, but the test wasn’t perfect and could not catch every HIV infection.

Over the years, blood banks were better able to screen for HIV among gay and bisexual men, but still the FDA policy stayed the same.

Rather than screen people out for risky behavior, it screened people out for who they were. Initially gay and bisexual men who had sex with men were banned for donating for life. Over the years, the ban eased a little, but still excluded most gay men from donating.