Any man who's had sex with another man within the previous five years is now barred from making anonymous sperm donations under new rules issued Thursday by the Food and Drug Administration,
The New York Times
reports. Most sperm banks around the country already have bans on anonymous donations by gay men, but the new FDA rules will apply nationwide in an attempt to prevent transmission of HIV to women who use donor sperm. The new policy is part of an ongoing effort by federal officials to strengthen regulations governing the use of human tissues. Under the new rules sperm donors also must be tested for HIV, hepatitis B and C, syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. Although gay men are prohibited from donating sperm anonymously, they still will be permitted to donate sperm to friends and family members. The ban on tissue donations by gay men applies to all tissues, not just sperm, according to the new rules. Drug users who've injected drugs within the previous five years are similarly barred from sperm and tissue donations under the new regulations.
The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force condemned the new rules, saying they are unneeded because HIV tests on donors or on donated tissues are fast and highly effective. The organization also points out that the ban is based on the misconception that HIV affects only sexually active gay men or that all gay men are at high risk for HIV infection. "It's one thing to base these rules on legitimate scientific concerns, but it's another to reinforce baseless stereotypes," Matt Foreman, executive director of NGLTF, told the
FDA officials say the agency has simply codified policies that are already in place at the majority of the nation's sperm banks. The FDA is expected to adopt more rules later this year governing the collection, processing, and storage of human tissues.