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U.S. News

Red Cross Calls for Equal Treatment of Gay Blood Donors

March 10, 2006

Thursday at a blood donation conference in Bethesda, Md., the American Red Cross joined other groups to petition a Food and Drug Administration advisory panel to relax guidelines that ban gay blood donors. Since 1985, FDA policy has prohibited any man who has had sex with another man since 1977 from donating blood. With the improved accuracy of HIV tests such a ban is outmoded, said ARC, the American Association of Blood Banks and America's Blood Centers.

"The AABB, ABC and ARC believe that the current lifetime deferral for men who have sex with other men is medically and scientifically unwarranted and recommend that deferral criteria be modified and made compatible with criteria for other groups at increased risk for sexual transmission of transfusion-transmitted infections," the groups said at the conference on "Behavior-Based Blood Donor Deferrals in the Era of Nucleic Acid Testing."

"From the perspective of eliciting an appropriate risk history for exposure to HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, the critical period is the three weeks immediately preceding donation and the length of this window period provides the scientific basis for deferral periods for at risk sexual behavior," said the joint statement.

"There is newer and more accurate testing available" since 2000, the last time FDA considered the ban, said Ryland Dodge, ARC's director of biomedical communication.

FDA officials were not immediately available for comment. Prior to the conference, on March 7, FDA spokesperson Stephen King said: "Congress and the public have made it clear they expect the FDA to ensure the lowest risk feasible concerning transmission of serious infectious diseases by donated blood and blood components. FDA policies to defer blood donors [are] based on certain risk behaviors, including males having sex with males, and on the best available scientific data."

Back to other news for March 10, 2006

Adapted from:
Washington Blade
03.09.2006; Andrew Keegan

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This article was provided by CDC National Prevention Information Network. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update.
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