Wednesday, December 24, 2014

FDA Prepares to Lift Gay Blood Donation Ban

FDA to propose altering ban on gay and bisexual men who want to donate blood

Since the onset of the epidemic of AIDS among gay/bisexual men, and intravenous drug abusers in the 1980s, one of the more obnoxious aspects of donating blood has been the extensive questioning regarding sexual practices and drug use. It used to be that you had to sit while a nurse asked you if you had ever had sex with another man, even once, ever used a non-prescribed injectable drug. Now, the nurse leaves the booth, but you still get the same questions, merely from a laptop connected to the internet. And we know how private that is. 

In the United States, the FDA mandates that people who answer yes to these questions are permanently banned from donating blood, for fear of infecting people who receive transfusions and others who receive other "blood products" as they are known

Gay activists have struggled with this ban for years, saying that it is somehow illegal discrimination to ban 1-3% of the population from donating blood based on their sexual orientation. This, of course, is patently false, as would be blood donors are not required to answer analogous questions about lesbian sex because, well rug-munching is not a risk factor for AIDS.

However, the FDAs new proposal is less than satisfying to gay men because it requires a year of celibacy before donating blood. Yeah, that'll happen, because donating blood is much more rewarding than sex.
The Food and Drug Administration plans to lift its lifetime ban on blood donation for men who have had sex with other men, and will propose replacing it with a one-year ban after homosexual activity, the agency announced Tuesday.

Gay rights groups, which have long advocated a change to the ban, largely decried the announcement, saying that expecting gay blood donors to remain celibate for a year is not reasonable or medically necessary.

Others were heartened by the relaxation of a long-criticized ban. “This is a very good next step in a process that began in the early 1980s,” said Jay Menitove, who chaired a federal advisory committee that recommended the change.

Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said, “There’s no doubt about it, that any way that you can safely add to the pool of donors to counter this chronic shortage of blood is a good thing.”

The recommended change could increase the U.S. blood supply by 2 percent, researchers said.
I'm looking forward to yet another change in the questions the next time I try to donate blood. I had been getting rather bored with the old set.

 I'm also predicting very few new blood donors as a result.

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