***Some restrictions apply
Drug Agency Reaffirms Ban on Gay Men Giving Blood
WASHINGTON, May 23 (AP) — Gay men remain barred from donating blood, the government said Wednesday, leaving in place a 1983 prohibition meant to prevent the spread of H.I.V. through transfusions.
The Food and Drug Administration reaffirmed the policy on its Web site on Wednesday, more than a year after the Red Cross and two other blood groups criticized the ban as “medically and scientifically unwarranted.”
“I am disappointed, I must confess,” said Dr. Celso Bianco, executive vice president of America’s Blood Centers, whose members provide nearly half the nation’s blood supply.
Before giving blood, all men are asked if they have had sex, even once, with another man since 1977, when the AIDS epidemic began in the United States, according to the drug agency. Those who say they have are barred from donating. The drug agency says those men are at increased risk of infection by H.I.V., which can be transmitted by blood transfusion. Anyone who has used intravenous drugs or been paid for sex is also permanently barred from donating blood.
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 after male-to-male sexual contact. New and improved tests, which can detect H.I.V.-positive donors within 10 to 21 days of infection, make the lifetime ban unnecessary, the blood groups told the F.D.A.
In a document posted Wednesday, the drug agency said it would change its policy if it received data proving that doing so would not pose a “significant and preventable” risk to blood recipients.
The agency said the H.I.V. tests now in use were highly accurate, but still could not detect the virus 100 percent of the time. The estimated H.I.V. risk from a unit of blood is about one per two million in the United States, according to the agency.
Critics of the exclusionary policy say it bars potential healthy donors, despite the increasing need for donated blood, and discriminates against gay men. The F.D.A. acknowledges that the restriction means many healthy donors cannot give blood, but rejected the suggestion that the policy was discriminatory.
What a crock of shit this is. Send the FDA a strongly worded email telling them what bigoted assholes they are. I did :)