California: San Jose State University Suspends Blood Drives, Citing FDA Ban on Donations by Gay Men
February 1, 2008
San Jose State University President Don Kassing has suspended all blood drives on the campus. The Food and Drug Administration's "lifetime blood donor deferral affecting gay men violates our non-discrimination policy," he wrote in an e-mail. The ban covers all blood drives, whether they are organized by SJSU students or employees.
"I recognize the importance of giving blood, and we know that universities are a significant source of blood," Kassing wrote. "However, lacking further action by the FDA, we are guided by the clear mandates of our non-discrimination policy. Our hope is that the FDA will revisit its deferral policy in a timely manner, and we may soon be able to hold blood drives on this campus again."
The decision, believed to be the first such by a US college, followed months of study by SJSU officials and a conference call between Kassing and FDA.
FDA has long banned blood donations by men who acknowledge having had sex with other men. The agency maintains the policy is necessary to protect the nation's blood supply because gay men are the group most likely to be infected with HIV. Opponents of the policy point out that it dates from the early days of the epidemic; that one-quarter of all new HIV infections are now detected in women; and that blood screening techniques have improved dramatically. Other potential donors are deferred as well, including drug injectors and people who have recently gotten a tattoo. The American Red Cross and several other blood collection agencies are pushing FDA to revise policy.
San Jose Mercury News
01.31.2008; Dana Hull
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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.