C. Baptiste-Williams at 9:21 AM Labels: gay, hiv, politics, social commentary
I haven't donated blood since I was a senior in college (which was just a couple of years ago... honest). So it came as quite a surprise this morning as I was doing my daily reading of the Post, Times, and CNN News, to find out that homosexuals have been banned from giving blood since 1983.
Regardless of your HIV and other STD status, the FDA does not allow men who have ever had a sexual encounter with another man to donate blood, saying they are at increased risk of infection by HIV that can be transmitted to others by blood transfusion. Although the Red Cross and two other blood groups criticized the policy as "medically and scientifically unwarranted" and offered the solution of waiting at least one year since their last homosexual encounter, the Food and Drug Administration continues to uphold their decision. In March 2006, the three groups told the FDA that new and improved tests, which can detect HIV-positive donors within just 10 to 21 days of infection, make the lifetime ban unnecessary.
This was all a shock to me because I have been asked to donate several times and have never been asked if I was homosexual. The last time I did donate blood... that was never asked nor did I see it on any form I filled out.
While critics of the policy said it bars potential healthy donors and is discriminatory, the FDA admits the policy defers many healthy donors but rejects the suggestion that it discriminates against gays.
According to CDC estimates, heterosexual contact led to about one third of new AIDS diagnoses and one third of new HIV diagnoses in 2005. I totally agree that there should be some safety precautions taken... but isn't and shouldn't all blood regardless of who it comes from tested before it is given out?