Health care facilities around the country are facing a blood shortage so intense that it’s requiring doctors to make hard choices about who gets blood transfusions and who does not. The pandemic caused a drop in donations and now things have reached a crisis level. But despite the deep need for more people to donate blood (and plasma, mind you), men who have sex with men (MSM) are still subject to a three month period of celibacy before they donate.

One assumption as to why is that because MSM have a higher rate of HIV infection, that their blood has to be more carefully vetted. But, is that it? It feels like running tests on blood shouldn’t be so challenging that systems such as the Red Cross wouldn’t be able to do so in a timely manner. I asked infectious disease experts to explain why this policy exists.

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