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Donating corneas, other organs or cadaver

Dec 24, 1996

Should you not donate your corneas, other organs or your cadaver if you are male and had sex with men? What if you and your partner are both male, with not even one tiny exception you have been faithful, your partner says with not even one tiny exception he has been faithful, and you both have tested negative for HIV and other STD's several times over many years?

Response from Mr. Sowadsky

Hi. Thank you for your question.

The guidelines in the United States are that men who have had sex with men, are deferred from donation of blood and body parts. The reason is that this sector of the population is at increased risk for HIV, Hepatitis B, and other infections. This is of course not to say that all men who have had sex with men, are infected, or are at risk for these diseases. However, there is strong data that show that a disproportional number of men having had sex with men, are infected with HIV, Hepatitis B, and other infections. It is for this reason that this group of people are deferred from blood donations and organ donations. The purpose of this deferral is to keep the blood/organ supply as safe as possible.

If you are 100% sure that neither of you are infected with HIV, nor other bloodborne diseases, then donation is something you may consider. However, I can say that according to guidelines, if you are a man who has had sex with another man, you automatically don't qualify for donation, for the reasons stated above. It is NOT my position to tell you to lie on the pre-screening interview. That is a choice that only you can make. But if there's even a chance that you or your partner may be infected with any bloodborne disease, I strongly suggest you do not donate blood or organs. I realize these guidelines sound discriminatory, however, they have their basis on public health risks in the Gay community. When it comes to the blood and organ supply, we are extra cautious, based on the previous history of the blood supply. The primary goal is to keep the blood and organ supply as safe as it possibly could be.

If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact the Centers for Disease Control at 1.800.232.4636 (Nationwide).

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