Orlando shooting re-raises questions on gay blood donation ban

After the mass shooting early Sunday morning at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla., blood donations were sorely needed, and lines wrapped around the block. However, federal regulations ban men who have had sex with men in the last year from donating blood.

In 1983, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration completely prohibited gay and bisexual men from donating blood in an attempt to keep HIV out of the U.S. blood supply. In December 2015, the agency relaxed the ban, allowing gay men who haven't had sex with another man in a year to donate blood.

But many leaders in the LGBT are saying the one-year moratorium is still a problem. According to Time, political leaders and LGBT leaders alike spoke out Sunday against the ban, saying it's a problem gay and bisexual men cannot support their community through blood donations.

Some reports were circulating that OneBlood, a donation center near Pulse nightclub, where the shooting occurred, was not following the ban — Orlando City Commissioner Patty Sheehan told CNN that the ban was lifted. However, the donation center tweeted Sunday that it was following all FDA guidelines, and reports to the contrary were "false."

According to the National Institutes of Health, the risk of getting HIV from a blood transfusion in the U.S. is lower than the risk of getting killed by lightening. The CDC reports the first time HIV was transmitted via blood transfusion in the U.S. was 1982, and it happened last in 2008.

 

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