- FDA bans men who have had sex with men in the previous five years from becoming anonymous sperm donors.
- A gay man was surprised to find this out when he was rejected from donating sperm, per The Washington Post.
- TreVaughn Roach-Carter told The Post that he thought the ban would have been “long gone and over.”
A 26-year-old gay man was shocked to receive a rejection email from a sperm bank after he provided a semen sample, according to The Washington Post.
The reason TreVaughn Roach-Carter was prohibited from donating his sperm was that he said he is gay. FDA regulations prohibit men who have had sex with men in the past five years from becoming anonymous donors, The Post reported. (The FDA does not bar gay men from becoming “directed” sperm donors, which is when the recipient knows the donor.)
“I thought these bans were something that was long gone and over and that I wouldn’t have to worry about it,” Roach-Carter told The Post.
Roach-Carter has wanted to donate his sperm, The Post said, to help make it easier for same-sex couples to build families.
“I know that when the time comes for me to have children, it will be a lengthy, stressful, and also probably expensive process,” he said, per The Post. “And I wanted to help make things as easy for other people as possible who would be going through similar things.”
Roach-Carter, who is Black, also wanted to help people “have families that look like them.” Analysis by The Washington Post found that Black sperm donors make up less than 2% of all sperm donors at the country’s four largest cryobanks.
The 26-year-old man had previously been rejected as a sperm donor in 2018, but he was advised to return after he had received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees. There is a highly selective process for sperm donation, which generally favors donors with higher education, said Jaime Shamonki, the chief medical officer at California Cryobank, per The Post.
Upon his return in 2020, he was rejected the day after he donated semen because he had indicated that he was gay in his application.
The FDA implemented rules in 2005 which barred any man who has had sex with another man in the previous five years from serving as an anonymous sperm donor. The reasoning was that the medical literature, citing data from the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, said that gay men were at a higher risk of HIV.
At the time, human rights groups challenged the logic behind it. “It’s unsafe and unfair to allow a straight man who regularly has unprotected sex with multiple partners to donate sperm, but not a gay man who practices safe sex within a monogamous relationship,” said Joe Solmonese, former president of the Human Rights Campaign, per a 2005 press release.
The Post notes that donor sperm is quarantined for six months and tested for HIV before it reaches the market.
The FDA told the newspaper that it has no immediate plans to eliminate the ban. “Despite the high level of accuracy and sensitivity of today’s donor screening tests for communicable diseases, FDA believes additional safeguards are needed to prevent the introduction, transmission, and spread of communicable diseases to protect recipients,” FDA press officer Veronika Pfaeffle said in a statement to The Post.
The Sperm Bank of California, which Roach-Carter visited, said it is losing out on donors, specifically donors of color, because of the FDA regulations.
It had 20 Black male candidates in the past three years for sperm donation who indicated on their applications that they had sex with men. “So for us, that was 20 opportunities that we could not even begin a process simply because they were part of the LGBTQ community,” said program director Kenya Campbell, per The Post.