Way before I decided I was one and done with children, I paid a visit to my local sperm bank, to inquire about putting five on some premium product. I figured there was no harm in researching all options when it came to reproduction and wanted to see what the process involved. Not that I was concerned with the donor’s sexual orientation, I did notice that it was surprisingly omitted. A potential buyer is supplied with information in regards to their physical appearance, health information, education, ethnic background and occasionally a photo. But it gave no information about sexual orientation. Now, there will be no need for that information because the FDA is enforcing new rules.

Under new FDA guidelines, any man who has engaged in homosexual activities in the last 5 years will not be allowed to anonymously donate sperm. This ban does not affect what is referred to as “directed” gay donors, which means that the woman receiving the sperm is not receiving it anonymously and is already aware that the donor is gay. According to the FDA, gay men pose a higher risk of carrying the AIDS virus. Critics of this ban have accused the FDA of further stigmatizing gay men, instead of establishing better screening processes for both gay or straight donors.

“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 also suggested that testing the sperm for HIV during the initial donation, then freezing it, and testing the donor again after six months to make sure there is no new HIV or other diseases.

Apparently not all sperm banks are created equal and a lot of them don’t test for infectious or genetic diseases, regardless of your sexual orientation. In doing my research for sperm banks, I did notice that Fairfax Cryobank has a policy of testing for various genetic diseases, as well as infectious diseases such as HIV, HPV and Herpes 1 & 2. But they also listed two competitors that did not test for these diseases.

Personally, whether the person is gay or straight, I would only buy a product from a company that routinely tests their donors for genetic and infectious diseases. Many gay rights advocates feel that the policy the FDA is enforcing is more about bigotry than it is science.

Do you feel gay men should have the right to donate sperm?

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