Don't be fooled: that new FDA rule is not about gay men

11/18/2014 06:39:00 PM
I have written in the past about the social benefits of donating blood. Blood is one of the easiest, most valuable things you can donate. So I took some interest in headlines like "The FDA may finally let gay men donate blood..." That's how it was reported in most media outlets, though Vox was a bit more responsible and finished the thought:"--but only if they stop having sex."

The new proposed rule would allow men who have previously had sex with a man to donate blood only if they have not had sex with any men at all in the past year. For some reason, that's what the press calls letting gay men donate blood. So I just wanted to make one thing clear: almost all of the newly eligible donors under the new rule are straight men, not gay or bisexual:
Finally, the FDA will reverse a policy that has been discriminating against straight men for decades.
This graph is taken from the 2011-2 NHANES panel and shows the proportion of newly eligible blood donors--men who have had sex with a man but not in the past year--who identify as gay or bisexual versus those who identify as straight. The new rule overwhelmingly benefits straight, not gay or bi, men.

To drive the point home, here's a graph of gay and bisexual men who will and will not be allowed to donate under the new policy.
The new rule hardly affects gay men though.

So please stop saying that the new rule would let gay men donate blood. It won't. This rule change is almost entirely about letting straight men donate blood, not gay men.