Gay Men Condemn Blood Ban as Biased
August 16, 2010
While the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) mulls whether to allow gay men to donate blood, adherents on both sides of the question continue to press their case to the agency and to the public at large.
FDA over the years has reviewed and sustained the ban, citing the prevalence of HIV among men who have sex with men and limitations of testing blood for the virus. The agency's stance is supported most notably by the hemophilia community.
"We appreciate the altruism of those wishing to donate," said Mark Skinner, president of the World Federation of Hemophilia. "Currently, we don't have answers to change the system, but through research we may be able to answer the critical questions in a way that would allow adapting the system."
Others say the ban is medically and scientifically unjustified. These critics include Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and 17 other senators who sent a letter to FDA saying the ban ignored the difference between safe and unprotected sexual activity by gay men.
Testing technology has improved greatly since the ban was implemented in the 1980s, critics note. Many support a requirement that a man defer blood donation for a year after having sex with another man, a provision that would align screening for gay men with that of others who have engaged in high-risk behavior.
"Turning away perfectly good donors gives an incorrect and harmful message about transmission risk," said Bebe Anderson, HIV project director for Lambda Legal, an advocacy organization that opposes the ban.
New York Times
08.03.2010; Jacqueline Mroz
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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