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Blood Donation


Funguy
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An FDA advisory panel has suggested lifting the ban on blood donations from men who have sex with men. The ban was originally installed in the 1980s during the AIDS epidemic, but the recommended reversal is in response to improved methods for testing blood for HIV. 2

 

Should the ban be lifted when the FDA issues national blood bank guidelines in the near future, it would allow these men to donate blood only if they had not had sex with men in the past year. This precaution allows for the time it can take for HIV to appear in tests.

 

2. Wall Street Journal. Panel advises FDA to lift ban on gay men giving blood. http://online.wsj.com/articles/fda-panel-advises-lifting-ban-on-gay-men-giving-blood-1417560946. Accessed December 4, 2014.

 

Well, we're finally moving in the right direction IF, and only IF, the donor is honest.

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Why a year? I can understand wanting a period longer than one testing cycle, but that's kind of ridiculous. Testing donors for HIV might actually be the best way to have a less discriminatory donor policy, but that's on the impractical side. (And yes, I'm aware that would require a waiting period between the test and donation.)

 

I welcome a less restrictive policy, but since it's on the honor system anyway both as to whether one has sex with men and how recently, I'm not sure what difference the policy change will make outside of its symbolism. I am wearied that the commenters who act as though this opens the floodgates to HIV contamination of the blood supply don't seem to realize that HIV can be and has been transmitted through heterosexual contact as well as transfusions and needlesharing and that in some places, heterosexual sex is the primary transmission mode.

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...Testing donors for HIV might actually be the best way to have a less discriminatory donor policy, but that's on the impractical side. (And yes, I'm aware that would require a waiting period between the test and donation.)...

 

Another method would be to test the blood being donated prior to combining it with the blood supply.

 

Only slightly off topic:

 

What are the rules for donating when one has received blood in the past? I've always interpreted

a life-long ban. Anybody know?

 

That's a good question. I have no idea.

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What are the rules for donating when one has received blood in the past? I've always interpreted

a life-long ban. Anybody know?

 

From American Red Cross: "Blood Donor Eligibility"

 

"Wait for 12 months after receiving a blood transfusion from another person in the United States.

 

You may not donate if you received a blood transfusion since 1980 in the United Kingdom or France. (The United Kingdom consists of the following countries: England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Channel Islands, Isle of Man, Gibraltar or Falkland Islands). This requirement is related to concerns about variant CJD, or 'mad cow' disease."

 

source: http://www.redcrossblood.org/donating-blood/eligibility-requirements/eligibility-criteria-alphabetical-listing

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An FDA advisory panel has suggested lifting the ban on blood donations from men who have sex with men. The ban was originally installed in the 1980s during the AIDS epidemic, but the recommended reversal is in response to improved methods for testing blood for HIV. 2

 

Should the ban be lifted when the FDA issues national blood bank guidelines in the near future, it would allow these men to donate blood only if they had not had sex with men in the past year. This precaution allows for the time it can take for HIV to appear in tests.

 

2. Wall Street Journal. Panel advises FDA to lift ban on gay men giving blood. http://online.wsj.com/articles/fda-panel-advises-lifting-ban-on-gay-men-giving-blood-1417560946. Accessed December 4, 2014.

 

Well, we're finally moving in the right direction IF, and only IF, the donor is honest.

 

The problem of donor honesty predated the AIDS epidemic. Any one, not just gay men, can give untruthful answers to the screening questions that blood banks ask. Yet, somehow, the blood banking system has managed to survive and the blood supply is essentially safe.

 

Early in the epidemic, when AIDS appeared, overwhelmingly, to be a "gay" disease, and there was no way to test for it, the blanket policy of not allowing donation from gay men, on its face, might have made sense. But 35 years in, with all we know, the persistence of the policy appears to be more an institutionalized demonization of gay men and gay sex than sound public health policy. Just as safe sex guidelines in the US appear to be designed more to prevent gay sex than to prevent HIV transmission, blood bank policies also suffer from these mixed motives.

 

Racial minorities have known for decades and decades that a racist system produces inherently racist policy. It is also true that policy emanating from a homophobic system should be viewed with an equally high index of suspicion.

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Every unit of donated blood in the US & Canada is already screened for HIV and a number of other infectious agents:

 

http://www.aids.gov/hiv-aids-basics/prevention/reduce-your-risk/blood-transfusions-organ-donation/

 

In that case, why haven't they changed this policy sooner, and what's the point of still excluding those who've had sex with other men in the last year? And how do they define sex for this purpose?

 

This is especially stupid given that (at least according to a chart tweeted by Conner Habib that doesn't identify its origin) receptive anal intercourse has the same risk per 10,000 exposures irrespective of the gender of the receptive partner?

 

This just gets more and more unbelievable. No wonder gay rights advocates think the proposed change is way too little.

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