Stanford Law School
Exploring Public Support for the FDA’s Blood Ban: The Effect of PrEP and of the Recognition of Gay Families
My project examines the relationship between PrEP, a prophylactic HIV drug, the recognition of gay marriage and gay families, and public trust in blood donation policies. Current FDA policy forbids blood banks from accepting blood from men who have had sex with other men in the previous year. In an online experiment conducted with a nationally representative sample, I examined how public support for the blood ban varies with gay men’s marital status, parental status, and use of PrEP. For the experiment, I randomly assigned eight variations of a vignette with these characteristics. The findings indicate that even when laypeople are educated about the health benefits of the new PrEP medication – which has been proven to prevent HIV infection – they are more reluctant to use blood donated by those taking the drug than by those who are not. Furthermore, the only category of gay men who were trusted to be able to donate blood was married couples with children (as compared to married couples with no children, single parents, and single gay men). Those two findings raise questions regarding the role that stigma might play in the implementation of health care policies and in the understanding of legal institutions such as marriage and family in the post-Obergefell era. This project also proposes legislative solutions in order to lift the blood ban restrictions. .