The Food and Drug Administration announced yesterday that they would continue a policy created during the AIDS crisis in 1983 that prohibits any gay man who has had sex with another man since 1977 from donating blood. Those that have are permanently banned from donating because the FDA sees them as having an increased risk of transmitting HIV through blood transfusions.
According to the Associated Press, “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,” [Dr. Celso Bianco, executive vice president of America’s Blood Centers] 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.”
Added Bianco: “I am disappointed, I must confess.”
Here’s a great video with some of the facts from Kenneth Garrett, behind the website Bloodsense, which lays out the facts and says how you can get involved.
Ban kept for gay men donating blood [ap via denver post]
FDA Policy on Blood Donations from Men Who Have Sex with Other Men [fda]