Gay men may be allowed to donate blood very soon. A policy, which was put into place during the AIDS crisis in 1983, might be revised.
As of right now, the FDA site still reads, “[donation was limited] when the risk of [contracting] AIDS from transfusion was first recognized. A history of male-to-male sex is associated with an increased risk for exposure to and transmission of certain infectious diseases, including HIV.”
That said, the FDA’s Blood-Products Advisory Committee might ease up on the harsh ruling. With the strides the LGBT community has made, including the increase of proper treatment of AIDS patients of all kinds, it’s about time this FDA approved rule is put to bed. It doesn’t need to be said, but even decades ago when AIDS was widespread, it had nothing to do with sexual orientation.
However, it’s not that easy. The FDA is not ready to completely remove this rule, but instead it plans to ease up.
According to Yahoo News, the idea came in November when “the Department of Health and Human Service’s (HHS) Advisory Committee on Blood Safety and Availability recommended easing–but not lifting–the ban. It suggested a one-year deferral policy instead, under which gay men would be permitted to donate after a year of abstinence. The FDA will consider this recommendation, as well as scientific evidence on HIV blood safety, during its meeting.”
For Brett Donnelly, who started a nonprofit called Banned4Life to raise awareness about this very issue, it’s a step in the right direction.
“That’s a big step. They haven’t taken any steps since 1983. But we still have a long way to go. Blake and I, who are in a monogamous relationship with basically no risk of contracting anything, are still not able to donate.”
Back in September a study was done at a California institute that showed thousands if not a million lives can be saved if gay men were allowed to donate blood.
“The American Red Cross suggests that each blood donation has the potential to be used in life-saving procedures on three individuals. Our estimates suggest that lifting the blood donation ban … could be used to help save the lives of more than 1.8 million people.”
They also did a study that suggested gay and bisexual men should be permitted to donate blood after one year or five years of sexual abstinence. If the policy allowed gay men with one year of sexual abstinence, then it could yield 317,000 pints of blood a year. With five years of sexual abstinence, it would yield almost 300,000 pints a year.
In closing, Donnelly said, “If you’re a heterosexual who’s having lots and lots of unprotected sex on a daily basis, they don’t weed you out,” Donnelly says. “And if we’re in a monogamous relationship, we’re at no risk. [Risk is] based on sexual behavior, not on sexual orientation, and that’s the way we want the policy to address those questions. To be fair, and to be accurate.”
What do you think about the FDA possibly loosening up their stance on this issue?
[Image via hxdbzxy / Shutterstock]