Ban Kept For Gay Men Donating Blood

  1. WASHINGTON - Gay men remain banned for life from donating blood, the government said Wednesday, leaving in place — for now — a 1983 prohibition meant to prevent the spread of HIV through transfusions.

    The Food and Drug Administration reiterated its long-standing policy on its Web site Wednesday, more than a year after the Red Cross and two other blood groups criticized the policy as "medically and scientifically unwarranted."
    "I am disappointed, I must confess," said Dr. Celso Bianco, executive vice president of America's Blood Centers, whose members provide nearly half the nation's blood supply.

    Before giving blood, all men are asked if they have had sex, even once, with another man since 1977. Those who say they have are permanently banned from donating. The FDA said those men are at increased risk of infection by HIV that can be transmitted to others by blood transfusion.
    In March 2006, the Red Cross, the international blood association AABB and America's Blood Centers proposed replacing the lifetime ban with a one-year deferral following male-to-male sexual contact. New and improved tests, which can detect HIV-positive donors within just 10 to 21 days of infection, make the lifetime ban unnecessary, the blood groups told the FDA.
    In a document posted Wednesday, the FDA said it would change its policy if given data that show doing so wouldn't pose a "significant and preventable" risk to blood recipients.

    "It is a way of saying, 'Whatever was presented to us was not sufficient to make us change our minds,'" Bianco said.
    The FDA said HIV tests currently in use are highly accurate, but still cannot detect the virus 100 percent of the time. The estimated HIV risk from a unit of blood is currently about one per 2 million in the United States, according to the agency.
    Critics of the exclusionary policy said it bars potential healthy donors, despite the increasing need for donated blood, and discriminates against gays. The FDA recognized the policy defers many healthy donors but rejected the suggestion it's discriminatory.

    Anyone who's used intravenous drugs or been paid for sex also is permanently barred from donating blood.
  2. I don't really understand why this is necessary considering they do test the blood. Perhaps there should be a series of tests instead of discriminating. Also I'm sure there are plenty of gay people that donate that slip through the cracks anyways.
  3. I guess the worry is that there will be an amt of HIV virus in the blood that isn't yet detectable by blood tests, so there remains the possibility of infection from transfusions.

    I have to say, though, that it seems like if the Red Cross is trying to get teh FDA to change it's mind, the risk is likely pretty low.

    The one year ban seems like it could work, then you know that if there has been infection, it would show up on a test. On the other hand, people can lie.

    It does seem that if testing the blood is inadequate, we would hear about infections from transfusions, which we really don't. After all, it isn't, of course, only gay men who contract HIV.
  4. I think the ban is so silly. I mean it is 2007 we know that anyone can get it... men, women and children. I wonder why they won't change it.
  5. I'm actually glad about the ban. It shows someone is taking responsibility for lowing the risk of HIV/AIDS infection through blood transfusion. I realize that anyone can contract HIV/AIDS, but if you look at the research, the disease is more abundant among the gay community. I think this ban is important because the disease goes undetected for 6 or more months when newly contracted. I'm also glad they banned IV drug users and prostitutes.
  6. It seems like discrimination to me...just saying. HIV can effect anyone and even the 30 something housewife with two kids and a minivan going into the red cross could have HIV...I know they are trying to protect people I just don't think this does it. The actual highest growing positive group in America now is young heterosexuals I think (but I could be wrong I am not great with facts, just think I read that somewhere).
  7. But it's discrimination...I'm sure there are many healthy gay men that could donate. The problem really lies within the testing, and that needs to be adjusted to make sure. Quite frankly....if they do not do enough testing to be absolutely certain with anyone's blood, then that is a major problem.
  8. Well, along with intravenous drug users (who are also not allowed to donate), gay men are one of the highest risk groups for HIV contraction. It's sad that this policy has to discriminate against a whole group of people, but it's not malicious; it's to keep people safe.
  9. I have a gay friend who gives blood. Guess he just lies on that question. I know he's sure safer about sex than most women I know.
  10. I think one-year sounds reasonable...but of course, fear is a grippling irrational thing...and the FDA is very smart to use the fact that HIV tests do not detect the virus 100% of the time...It doesn't say though if that includes the people who have had sex with men within a year...

    beside, it's not like only gay people have HIV viruses...>_<~...
  11. I really tend to think its not an issue about discrimination against the gay community so much as it is looking at the odds and percentages. I think you need to factor in the amount of money it would cost to have to do additional expensive tests to make absolutely sure an "at risk" donors blood is safe. Its not like our health care system is so enthusiastic about putting money in the appropriate places. and when you are talking about the Red Cross, they are working on an extremely limited budget based on donations. Perhaps the gay community should start their own bloodbank network that would raise funds to have their inventory tested periodically and have it as a back up source for the Red Cross?
  12. The same rule applies here in Canada. I can see why they do it, but I also know gay men who are in monogamous relationships who are no more promiscuous than straight people, so it seems kinda unfair. I think they should operate more on a case-to-case basis. After all, they don't ask straight people about numbers of sex partners, if you're a woman they just ask if you have had sex with a man who's had sex w/ other men. Not everyone will necessarily have accurate information about that.
  13. Well, I can't complain. I live in a country where people with body piercings or tattoos are also banned from donating blood!
  14. I think in the US there is a wait of 1 year or something like that after tattoos and body piercings.

    I can't donate again until August because I went to the Dominican Republic on vacation last summer!