FDA to Implement Gay Sperm Donor Rules

The FDA is banning gay men from serving as anonymous sperm donors if they have had homosexual sex in the past five years.

FDA to Implement Gay Sperm Donor Rules (AP)

To the dismay of gay-rights activists, the Food and Drug Administration is about to implement new rules recommending that any man who has engaged in homosexual sex in the previous five years be barred from serving as an anonymous sperm donor. The FDA has rejected calls to scrap the provision, insisting that gay men collectively pose a higher-than-average risk of carrying the AIDS virus. Critics accuse the FDA of stigmatizing all gay men rather than adopting a screening process that focuses on high-risk sexual behavior by any would-be donor, gay or straight.

“Under these rules, a heterosexual man who had unprotected sex with HIV-positive prostitutes would be OK as a donor one year later, but a gay man in a monogamous, safe-sex relationship is not OK unless he’s been celibate for five years,” said Leland Traiman, director of a clinic in Alameda, Calif., that seeks gay sperm donors. Traiman said adequate safety assurances can be provided by testing a sperm donor at the time of the initial donation, then freezing the sperm for a six-month quarantine and testing the donor again to be sure there is no new sign of HIV or other infectious diseases.

Although there is disagreement over whether the FDA guideline regarding gay men will have the force of law, most doctors and clinics are expected to observe it. The practical effect of the provision – part of a broader set of cell and tissue donation regulations that take effect May 25 – is hard to gauge. It is likely to affect some lesbian couples who want a child and prefer to use a gay man’s sperm for artificial insemination.

Who knew lesbians preferred to use gay sperm?

The FDA’s rationale makes no sense. If they are concerned with passing on the AIDS virus, then they should do HIV testing. Indeed, this provision would only work against gay men who fill their paperwork out honestly, since it’s not as if clinic personnel would be able to immediately identify homosexuals, let alone the ones who are sexually active.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Scott Dillard says:

    This is the same nonsense that happens with gay men giving blood – or rather, not being allowed to give blood. Red Cross says if a man has had sex with another man even ONCE since 1976, he may not give blood, even if he’s standing there with ten years of negative HIV test results in his hand. It makes no sense. Yet, at the same time, Red Cross has no special screening for black men or women, who chances of being HIV positive are astronomically higher than for white gay men. The same goes for the incidence of intravenous drug use among blacks and Hispanics, who are also not singled out. It’s sexual politics and it really should end.

  2. lt bell says:

    is it still OK for us Christian Drug users to donate???????

  3. legion says:

    It sure is, lt. Just make sure to have unprotected anal sex with your heterosexual spouse the night before, obviously, the FDA is announcing that it’s impossible to get AIDS or other STDs from “real” sex…

  4. jeff says:

    I assume sperm banks do a blood test on donors, so I don’t see the point of this nonsense. The DNA blood test is accurate to within 24 hours of exposure, but more expensive than the antibody test. Or are they saying they have no idea whether donated sperm comes from HIV positive? Talk about caveat emptor!