Blood Donation Hub

Gay Men Now Allowed to Donate Blood in South Africa

South Africa has ended its ban on blood donation by gay men, Mamba Online reports:

BloodOn Tuesday, Vanessa Raju, SANBS Communications Manager, confirmed to Mambaonline that a new non-discriminatory policy had been put in place that favours people in monogamous relationships, regardless of their sexuality.

She said that anyone who has a new sexual partner will not be allowed to donate blood for six months, and that anyone who has multiple partners will not be allowed to donate blood. Both criteria are irrespective of a person’s sexual orientation.

“This policy would apply to me, for example, who’s just started dating someone new,” Raju added. “But people who are in monogamous male same-sex relationships [for more than six months] can now donate.”

She explained that the previous policy had been put in place on the basis of international statistics and trends. “It took us a while because we didn’t have local facts that warranted changing our policy, although we knew South Africa was different from other countries in terms of risk of HIV,” said Raju.

The U.S. still prohibits blood donation by any man who has had sex with another man since 1977. Last August, 84 Democratic lawmakers led by Senator Tammy Baldwin urged HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to end the ban, saying that it “continues to perpetuate inaccurate stereotypes against gay and bisexual men and fosters an atmosphere that promotes discrimination.”

Gay Man Rejected As An Organ Donor

Rohn Neugebauer

Despite the fact that donated blood and organs can be screened quickly and accurately for STDs and complications, gay men are still treated like plague rats if they haven't been celibate for half a decade. Rohn Neugebauer was a healthy gay man in an 8-year committed relationship who inexplicably died of cardiac arrest at the age of 48. Given that he had recently co-hosted a fundraiser that raised thousands of dollars for a local organ donation organization, the Center for Organ Recovery & Education (CORE), it was no surprise that he was an organ donor himself. Neugebauer's sister went through the interview process with a CORE representative, and when she answered affirmatively to the question of whether Neugebauer had been in a relationship with another man in the past 5 years, he was immediately rejected as a donor.

CORE explicitly invoked an FDA guideline that prohibits tissue donations from sexually active gay men, but the organization's rejection is made perplexing by the fact that the prohibition does not apply to organ donation. CDC guidelines also state that the risk for HIV and disease transmission is so high with donations from gay men that they should be rejected unless the situation is "deemed to be greater than the risk of HIV transmission and disease" and the gay donor is the only option available. The sexual history of heterosexuals, conversely, does not impact their eligibility.

Over 121,000 people are presently on waiting lists for organ donation. CORE's senseless rejection may have just cost some their lives.

Russian Leader Says Gays 'Sabotaging' Blood System, Proposes Gay-to-Straight Conversion Program

DegtyaryovState Duma Deputy Mikhail Degtyaryov, a Moscow mayoral candidate for the LDPR party, is calling for a ban on blood donations by gay men, The Moscow Times reports:

"[Degtyarov] said Monday that his proposal is not an act of discrimination but a precautionary measure since over 65 percent of HIV-infected individuals are men, Interfax reported...

Degtyaryov said that the Duma is also considering a program to provide anonymous and voluntary counseling for gay and bisexual people who want to be heterosexual. "Many want to return to a normal life, to become heterosexual like 95 to 99 percent of our citizens," Degtyaryov said.

He also said that failure to forbid homosexuals from donating blood is a type of "sabotage."

Tammy Baldwin, 84 Dem Lawmakers Urge End to Gay Blood Donation Ban in Letter to HHS Sec'y Kathleen Sebelius

Senator Tammy Baldwin is leading an effort by Democratic lawmakers to end the U.S. ban on gay men donating blood, Gannett reports:

BaldwinShe sent a letter signed by 84 other Democratic lawmakers Friday to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius expressing concern that the ban “continues to perpetuate inaccurate stereotypes against gay and bisexual men and fosters an atmosphere that promotes discrimination.”

Baldwin, who is the first openly gay U.S. senator, and her colleagues are urging that blood donors be selected based on health factors and not sexual orientation.

“Our current policies turn away healthy, willing donors, even when we face serious blood shortages,” they wrote.

The current policy, which prohibits blood donation by any man who has had sex with another man since 1977, was put under review by HHS in March 2012, but there has been little movement since.

Gannett adds:

It’s unclear how the study is progressing or when it will be finished. An HHS spokeswoman said only that the study is “not yet complete” and that “HHS is committed to continuously improving the safety and availability of the nation’s blood supply” and “is in the process of conducting additional studies to help inform our policy discussions.”

Was the National Gay Blood Drive a Success? - VIDEO


Was last week's National Gay Blood Drive, spearheaded by gay filmmaker Ryan James Yezak a success? Yes, according to Yezak.

He explains why, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Was the National Gay Blood Drive a Success? - VIDEO" »

National Gay Blood Drive is Today: Reminder


Just a reminder, the National Gay Blood Drive is today. Find out HERE where you can participate.

More info HERE and HERE.

For those of you in NYC, GMHC sends us this update:

Today GMHC is providing free, confidential HIV testing in front of the New York Blood Center in partnership with the National Gay Blood Drive, a nationwide demonstration against the lifetime ban on blood donation by gay and bisexual men. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) currently bans any man who had sex with another man (MSM), even once, since 1977 from being allowed to donate blood. For several years, GMHC has been leading advocacy and public education efforts requesting that the FDA lift the ban and screen all potential donors equally for high-risk behavior, regardless of sexual orientation.

"In June, the American Medical Association joined the American Association of Blood Banks, America's Blood Centers, and the Red Cross in calling the lifetime MSM blood ban discriminatory and unnecessary," said Jason Cianciotto, Director of Public Policy at GMHC. "Under the current policy, a heterosexual man who has sex with someone who is known to be HIV-positive is subject to a one-year deferral, while a gay or bisexual man who is HIV-negative and always practices safer sex is banned from donating blood for life. GMHC continues to urge the FDA to follow the lead of nations including France, Spain, and Italy that have adopted deferral policies based on comprehensive assessments, screening all prospective donors, regardless of sexual orientation, for high-risk practices."

As part of our advocacy to lift the ban, GMHC is partnering with the National Gay Blood Drive, a nationwide, peaceful demonstration that invites otherwise eligible gay or bisexual male donors to get tested at a specified donation center in their city and attempt to donate blood. As each donor is rejected, his HIV test result will be collected, compiled, and delivered to the FDA, visually conveying on a national level how much blood the gay community could contribute.

GMHC's mobile HIV testing van will be located in front of the New York Blood Center at 310 East 67th street from 8:00 am-2:15pm.


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