Gay Blood Still Unacceptable

Timothy Kincaid

May 24th, 2007

In 1983 the FDA wisely decided that gay men should not donate blood to the country’s blood banks.  HIV had not been identified and no tests were available to identify its presence.

Things have changed since 1983.  Now you can take a saliva-swab test and find out your HIV status within 20 minutes.  And it is increasingly likely that gay men regularly test and are aware of their seroimmunity status.

Also, the face of HIV/AIDS has changed.  In 2005, only half of reported HIV transmissions were related to sex between men.  And currently the greatest contributing factor to HIV transmission and to knowledge of HIV status is race.

Taking these changes into consideration, those responsible for our blood supply called gay ban “medically and scientifically unwarranted” and requested that the FDA rethink their requirements.

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.

The FDA said “no” because “men who have sex with other men have the highest risk of transfusion-tramsmitted diseases like HIV and hepatitis.”

I would like to believe that decisions made in Federal agencies are based on fact and science rather than because of appointments predicated on ideology and political loyalties and alliances. I would like to think that this decision was made because the FDA put principle and protection first and not the religious-based agenda of the administration’s partisan allies.

To answer that question, Fox News asked Dr. Louis Katz, a past president of America’s Blood Centers:

Given what the medical community knows today, do you think the FDA is being overly cautious in upholding its 1983 ban on gay men?

“I support a less stringent deferral,” Katz said. “I think deferring blood donation to six months or one year after male-to-male sexual contact is reasonable and would not have a negative impact on the current safety of our blood supply. I understand their thought process. But the other issue is fairness. Not all men who have sex with men are at high risk for HIV. I’m not violently angry about it, but I think they could have dealt with the concern a little differently.”

Dr. Katz is more generous than I.  He can see faulty thinking, while I see policy that eliminates healthy blood contributions during a time when the need is increasing.  And while I too am not violently angry, I am fully disgusted at the politicians who place their biases, stereotypes, religious alliances, and personal loyalties over what is best for our nation.


March 7th, 2010

Gay people are putting ideology and bias first on this one. It’s not the other way around.

Your post does not support overturning the ban. A statement such as “In 2005, only half of reported HIV transmissions were related to sex between men” is mathematically evidence for supporting the ban. But you have to understand math to understand this.


March 7th, 2010

Actually the main scientific fact that supports overturning the ban is the fact that with nucleic acid testing the possibility of you contracting HIV from ANYONE’S donation is 1 in 2 million.


March 7th, 2010

Oy vey, Joe. One should not comment on another person’s math while making the same mistake. That statement supports a ban on heterosexuals just as much as it supports banning gay donations.

Even a deferral period is ridiculously putting ideology before medical needs.

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