No Gay Sperm, Please

Friday, May 06, 2005

No Gay Sperm, Please

The FDA is getting ready to implement their new "recommendations" banning gay men from being anonymous sperm donors. Why? They claim it's because of increased HIV risk. I'm not buying it. As someone who has done quite a bit of sperm bank research it's obvious to me that it's not based on science. The standard practice of all banks is that all anonymously donated sperm is tested, frozen, stored for six months, and then retested for HIV, etc. Before it is used it is often retested again. The liability of sperm banks in the area of disease transfer is pretty critical, so while all sperm donors give a sexual history the banks rely on science to make sure a man is STD-free, not his word. (Duh, because people lie, especially about sex.)

This new ban doesn't attempt to isolate risky behavior of donors, it just bans certain people categorically regardless of the facts of their life. For instance, a single straight college student vs. a gay man who has been in a monogamous relationship for the past five years? Who is at greater risk for exposure to STDs or HIV?

The one thing I haven't seen anyone openly acknowledge-- now or a few years ago when these regulations were first considered-- is this ban really about a fear of having gay children?

The average hetero couple that goes to a sperm bank is often trying to match the characteristics of the donor to those of the future father-- ethnicity, eye color, height, interests, etc. And since we really don't know what makes a person gay, what if by choosing a gay donor a couple will always wonder about little Johnny or Mary? I think that HIV may be a bit of a red herring, that the FDA would like to reassure people that they're not trying to make a possibly gay baby with a gay man.

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