‘Tone Deaf’ Facebook Urges Gay Men To Donate Blood Which Is Banned in the U.S.

AT THE HEIGHT OF THE AIDS epidemic in the late 1980s, where an HIV diagnosis was tantamount to a death sentence, and fear ruled the day, the CDC and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration made it illegal for men who have sex with men to donate blood.

At the time, there was no screening process, and some people who acquired the virus (e.g. Ryan White) were hemophiliacs who received blood transfusions that were subsequently infected.

In the thirty years since, we’ve developed a 100% accurate screening process for testing blood for HIV and other blood born diseases, and all blood is screened no matter its origin. Because of this, many gay and HIV activists have called for a lift to the so called “blood ban.”

The issue made headlines three years ago after the shooting massacre at the LGBT night club Pulse in Orlando, that resulted in 50 deaths. Many gay men were incensed that a time when Orlando blood banks needed it, they were not legally allowed to donate to a crisis that had affected our community.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration relaxed its lifetime deferral on men who have sex with other men giving blood to one year in 2015.

Which is why a report out this morning is a call to action for many. According to CNBC, “Men who have sex with other men are being targeted with notifications to donate blood, despite the restrictions for many of them to do so.

CNBC spoke to Facebook user Aaron Endré from San Francisco, “who has listed himself on Facebook ‘as a man interested in other men’ in his profile. He follows news about queer issues, and he is regularly targeted with ads in his feed that indicate that both Facebook and Instagram are aware of his sexual orientation.”

Yet, the article says, “Endré has been getting nudges on his Facebook feed to donate blood every few days, despite his efforts to mute them.”

“’On Facebook’s part, this seems tone deaf,’ said Endré, who works in public relations.”

A screenshot of Endré’s Facebook profile, reminding him to give blood
Aaron Endre

CNBC said: Some believe they should be reconsidered altogether. As one Atlantic writer put it: “To place the same restrictions on monogamous gay couples as those placed on straight men who have unprotected sex with multiple partners, or intravenous drug users, is simply inexcusable policy.”

“We don’t target people based on their sexual orientation or their ability to donate blood,” said a Facebook spokesman in a statement to CNBC. “Our blood donation feature was developed to help increase awareness of the critical need for blood donation nationwide, especially given the declining donor pool and seasonal shortages our partners are experiencing.”

The Red Cross said it appreciates Facebook alerting the public to participate in the blood donation process.


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