FDA reaffirms ban on gay blood

FDA policy barring gay men from donating blood is purely discriminatory.

Since the early 1980s the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has enforced a policy that bars gay men from donating blood. Despite recent arguments from the Red Cross, the American Association of Blood Banks and America’s Blood Centers, the FDA reaffirmed their policy in late May this year.

The policy was created in 1983 with the intent to prevent the spread of HIV by blood transfusions. Male persons are asked during a screening if they have had sex with a man since 1977, when the first AIDS case was diagnosed in the United States. If they answer yes, they are banned from donating blood for life.

The Red Cross and blood center organizations stated in 2006 that the policy was “medically and scientifically unfounded.” They suggested that gay men should have to wait only a year since they have last had sex, which is plenty of time for HIV to be detected in the blood.

Yet the FDA refuses to change its ways, stating they will only adopt a new policy if there is information that promises there wouldn’t be a “significant and preventable” risk to blood recipients.

The FDA admits that they are restricting potential healthy donors by way of this policy; they refuse, however, to acknowledge that it is discriminatory.

It is sad that the FDA is still separating potential blood donors by their sexual preferences. The FDA should instead be focusing on making sure all donors are practicing safe sex, period.

In the United States, women represent 25 percent of newly diagnosed HIV infections. Why are gay men still being discriminated against?

Turning away such a large percentage of potential donors is nothing but irresponsible discrimination that will only hurt our nation’s ever-needed blood supply in the long run.