Lifetime Ban Lifted on Gay Men as Blood Donors

Blood Drive
Posted at 5:00 PM, Dec 22, 2015
and last updated 2015-12-22 17:00:00-05

TALLAHASSEE, FL (WTXL) -- The Food and Drug Administration has lifted its lifetime ban on accepting blood donations from gay men.

The ban was implemented by the the FDA in 1983 at the start of the AIDS crisis. Now, gay men can donate, but only after 12 months of celibacy.

The organization OneBlood collects donations in Tallahassee and Thomasville. The group says the government's decision comes as good news -- when dealing with a constant need for blood.

"When they change policies like this and allow us to have the potential for more donors, we're certainly for that," said spokesman Pat Michaels, "and it looks like that's the case here."

But the news comes with some concern from the local LGBT community. The Family Tree has been an LGBT community center in Tallahassee since 1996. Chair Steven Hall said the number of eligible donors may have gone up slightly, but the new change still discriminates against many.

"There are millions more who want to donate blood who are not able to, even with this change," Hall said. "It causes those who want to donate blood to either have to not do it, or to make a decision to not be fully honest when they're answering the questions."

Since the FDA made the decision Monday, it will take some time for blood centers like OneBlood to make changes to accommodate the new donors. The organization said the decision is a welcome one, especially during the holidays, when it usually sees fewer donors.

However, there is no specific timeline as to when those who are eligible can finally donate.