American FDA reaffirms ban on gay men donating blood

Dylan Vox | May 28, 2007

LOS ANGELES — Did I go to sleep and wake up in 1983? When it comes to the FDA that seems very probable. According to a news release this week the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has reaffirmed the antiquated government stance on the ban of blood donations from gay men.

The ban was initially put in place during the early eighties in order to help prevent the spread of HIV through transfusions. And although several organizations, including the American Red Cross have criticized the policy as �medically and scientifically unwarranted�, the practice has been commonplace since that time.

The Red Cross and the AABB have been asking the FDA to reconsider lifting the lifetime ban on gay men since because there is a desperate need for blood donors, and a severe shortage which is straining the agencies. Since 1977 blood banks have been required to ask men if they have sex with other men and an affirmative answer would not allow them to donate the much needed blood.

The FDA argues that currently HIV testing cannot always pick if a person is HIV positive which makes it possible they could be donated infected blood. The groups who are figting for the ban lift recommended a window period to try and allow for the blood to be used, but the FDA still refused.

The FDA commented that 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.

In a document posted on their website and issued to the media, 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. – Issued by Gay Link Content

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