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WATCH: Gay Man Goes Without Sex for a Year to Donate Blood

WATCH: Beating the Blood Ban

VICE News Tonight goes inside the stigma and bad science around the blood donation rules for gay and bi men.

At the height of  the HIV  epidemic in the 1980s, a national panic about the safety of the nation’s blood supply arose, and by 1992, the Federal Drug Administration had placed a lifetime ban on blood donations from men who'd had even one single sexual encounter with another man since 1977.

Despite advances in HIV detection that all blood donations go through, that blanket ban wasn't lifted until 2015. When it was, it was replaced by another prohibitive restriction requiring men to abstain from sexual contact with other men for a full year before they could donate blood.

Interest in the issue recently reached new heights in national media covereage after the Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando, when donating blood was one of the only things mourning locals were able to do to show their support for the victims. Sadly, most gay and bi men were turned away from donating blood because of the abstinence rule.

VICE News Tonight's episode, "Beating the Ban" goes inside the continuing controversy with a new angle. Correspondent Arielle Duhaime-Ross interviews Jeffrey Franzone, head of the National Gay Blood Drive, to talk about the issue. Franzone, a gay 21-year-old college student, was abstinent for a year before donating blood, as a way to call attention to the issue. 

"The ban is out-of-date and arbitrary," he says. "I can't even get a blowjob, yet my best friend can sleep with eight different women in a week, with no protection, and donate blood. There's something fundamentally wrong with that."

VICE News Tonight airs tonight on HBO at 7:30pm. Watch a clip below:

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Savas Abadsidis

Editor

Ryan is the Digital Director of The Advocate Channel, and a graduate of NYU Tisch's Department of Dramatic Writing. She is also a member of GALECA, the LGBTQ+ society of entertainment critics. While her specialties are television writing and comedy, Ryan is a young member of the LGBTQ+ community passionate about politics and advocating for all.

Ryan is the Digital Director of The Advocate Channel, and a graduate of NYU Tisch's Department of Dramatic Writing. She is also a member of GALECA, the LGBTQ+ society of entertainment critics. While her specialties are television writing and comedy, Ryan is a young member of the LGBTQ+ community passionate about politics and advocating for all.