Thursday, May 24, 2007

More Discrimination Against Gays???

Yes, gay men remain banned for life from donating blood, the government said Wednesday, leaving in place, at least for now, as a 1983 prohibition meant to prevent the spread of HIV through transfusions.

The Food and Drug Administration reiterated its long-standing policy on its Web site Wednesday.

As gay sex remains one of the primary routes of transmission of the AIDS virus.

Of course, this sound FDA decision has its detractors; “I am disappointed, I must confess," said Dr. Celso Bianco, executive vice president of America's Blood Centers, whose members provide nearly half the nation's blood supply.

Last year the Red Cross and two other blood groups criticized the policy as "medically and scientifically unwarranted." In March 2006, the Red Cross, the international blood association AABB and America's Blood Centers proposed replacing the lifetime ban with a one-year deferral following male-to-male sexual contact. New and improved tests, which can detect HIV-positive donors within just 10 to 21 days of infection, make the lifetime ban unnecessary, the blood groups told the FDA.

(Yeah, why err on the side of protecting the general population?)

In a document posted Wednesday, the FDA said it would change its policy if given data that show doing so wouldn't pose a "significant and preventable" risk to blood recipients.

The FDA said HIV tests currently in use are highly accurate, but still can’t detect the virus 100 percent of the time. The estimated HIV risk from a unit of blood is currently about one per 2 million in the United States, according to the agency.

Critics of the exclusionary policy said it bars potential healthy donors, despite the increasing need for donated blood, and discriminates against gays. The FDA recognized the policy defers many healthy donors but rejected the suggestion it's discriminatory.

As it’s not only gays who’re barred from blood donation. Anyone who's used intravenous drugs or been paid for sex also is permanently barred from donating blood.

But we all know that there aren’t any angry gay men out there who’d look to donate tainted blood to introduce AIDS infected blood into the nation’s blood supply....are there?

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