Blood Donations

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Blood Donations

Postby Daknee » Mon Mar 01, 2010 9:24 pm

I ran across this article and found it interesting. I have always felt it was wrong for me not to be able to donate blood if I chose to. What do you think?



Let Gay Men Give Blood
By Lisa Neff, columnist, 365gay.com
03.01.2010 8:00am EST
Each year, in mid-June, I cover an event for the local paper called the Islandwide Blood Drive, which raises money for Anna Maria Island, Fla., nonprofits and helps stock the blood supply.

Send / ShareAdd CommentEach year, people at the drive ask me whether I’m donating, and I tell them, “No, I can’t.” I don’t meet the eligibility requirements, which state that a person must weight at least 110 pounds.

That requirement exists to protect me, the donor.

There are other requirements, most of them mandated by federal regulation and said to exist to protect a recipient of donated blood. One of those requirements, the ban against gay and bisexual men donating blood, is antiquated. And it is harmful to the men turned away and for a medical system that relies heavily on donor supply.

In 1985, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration instituted a rule banning any man who has had sex with other man from donating blood since 1977. That’s a lifetime ban, regardless of HIV status, regardless of one’s relationship status, regardless of one’s frequency of sexual activity or the believed exposure risk in the sexual activity.

In late February, the Gay Men’s Health Crisis released “A Drive for Change: Reforming U.S. Blood Policies,” which offers a history of the rule, efforts to change the rule and an analysis of its impact.

In 1985, when the rule was enacted, it was a response to a virus that doctors and researchers knew little about or certainly not enough about, a virus that was relatively new and frightening and proving deadly. The rule was, in those early years of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, a public health effort to protect patients refusing blood transfusions from contracting HIV.

But much has changed since then with regard to HIV and AIDS, and advances in the screening of blood supplies make the chance of receiving a unit of HIV infected blood one in 1.5 million, according to GMHC. All blood is tested after donation — the labs don’t rely on a donor’s response to a 48-question questionnaire.

So what does that mean?

That means federal authorities have decided it is OK for a heterosexual person who engaged in sexual activity with an HIV-positive person 366 days ago to donate blood today.

That means that a man who paid a woman for sex a year ago can donate blood today, just as a woman who paid a man for sex a year ago can donate — provided she’s 110 pounds or more.

But authorities resist lifting the ban against a gay donor, even if he last engaged in sexual activity with an HIV-negative man 3,666 days ago or 7,320 days ago.

GHMC last week called for change — not its first call — with its 51-page report that presents a convincing argument that the only reason the rule remains is because of a bias against gay and bisexual men.

“It is time for the FDA to join the growing consensus favoring reform of blood donation policies for gay and bisexual men, and implement reforms that allow gay and bisexual men to donate blood while improving the overall safety of the American blood supply,” the report states.

GHMC proposed a framework for reforming donor policy that it summarized as DONATE:

• Decreased risk to blood donation recipients of accidental HIV transmission.

• Objective risk factors as primary basis for blood donor policies.

• Non-discriminatory impact on gay/bisexual men and other groups.

• Awareness-raising of HIV prevention and transmission risks.

• Technology-driven donor screening and blood screening procedures.

• Expansion of safe, eligible blood donor pool.

With this framework, with a different administration and with calls for change coming from HIV specialists, public health experts and a number of organizations that exist to respond to public crisis (including the influential American Red Cross), maybe change is ahead, perhaps a lifetime ban will be no more.

In 2011 — 2010 seems too soon for government action — maybe I’ll walk into the hall where the Islandwide Blood Drive takes place to interview donors. And maybe to the first person who asks me, “Are you donating?” I’ll reply, “I can’t. Don’t weigh enough. But my gay buddy here has his sleeve rolled up.”

Then again, I’ll be another year closer to 50, and maybe exceeding that 110-pound minimum. So …
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Re: Blood Donations

Postby nimby » Tue Mar 02, 2010 9:41 pm

I think it's discrimination, plain and simple.
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Re: Blood Donations

Postby Daknee » Wed Mar 03, 2010 9:23 am

Yes, a way of saying it's only a gay disease and I do not want gay blood in me.
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Re: Blood Donations

Postby furface » Thu Mar 04, 2010 5:19 pm

A number of European nations have either lifted or modified considerably the lifetime deferral of donations by gay men. At the time, height of the AIDS epidemic, the ban seemed reasonable as the exact mechanism of transmission was unclear and the testing was inexact. Times and methods have changed. The tests are faster and far more accurate.

Today Sen. John Kerry and 18 other senators issued a letter calling for the lifetime deferral of gay men to be lifted as soon as possible. AP News item
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Re: Blood Donations

Postby furface » Tue Mar 09, 2010 9:27 am

Timothy Kincaid over to Box Turtle Bulletin has posted one of the best articles on reviewing, and hopefully revising, the lifetime ban on blood donations. You can read it here along with some excellent comments.
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Re: Blood Donations

Postby nimby » Sat Jan 15, 2011 5:25 pm

As I have very rare blood, I constantly am contacted and have donated to the Canadian Blood Services in the past. Because of their recent upholding of the ban on gay men donating blood, I've asked them to remove me from their list and I told them exactly why. They were stunned. Besides, now that I actively sleep with men, i guess I can't. Oh well.
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Re: Blood Donations

Postby Phoenix6570 » Sat Jan 15, 2011 8:10 pm

I'll never forget the first time I found out about this. I was in my first year of college and a blood drive was hosted on campus. I thought it would be a good thing to do so midday I went in to donate blood. I filled out all the paperwork and sat ready to go; until I was told I could not donate because I had sex with a man. The women was nice about it, but I was in complete shock and felt awkward having to walk out of there. Honestly I was pretty pissed; I couldn't believe that was a reason for them to exclude me.

Like Nimby said its discrimination. They didn't ask about whether or not you even practice safe sex in the paperwork or at any time while I was there. As far as I'm concerned they're missing out on viable donors for a foolish reason.
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Re: Blood Donations

Postby Xpat » Sun Jan 16, 2011 9:41 am

Phoenix6570 wrote:I'll never forget the first time I found out about this. I was in my first year of college and a blood drive was hosted on campus. I thought it would be a good thing to do so midday I went in to donate blood. I filled out all the paperwork and sat ready to go;


That was my exact experience! And then every time the ARC needs blood, they plead and beg, yet I can't go and donate. I've even thought of lying on the form, but something about doing that seems unethical to me so I won't do it.
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