MEDFORD, Ore. — Demonstrators around the country are celebrating National Gay Blood Drive Day. The event is an effort to increase awareness for gay donors who, as of now, could face lifetime bans on donating blood.
Officials with the Red Cross say they saw 50,000 fewer donors than expected across the country last month; that’s a 10% drop from last year. In light of that need for blood, officials are observing the National Gay Blood Drive by calling for a change to the current rules.
Since the 1985 the FDA has required male donors to indicate whether or not they have had sexual contact with another man. Those who say yes, called “MSM’s”, are barred for life from donating blood, presumably to limit the spread of HIV.
America’s Blood Centers, AABB, and the American Red Cross are challenging this policy. In a joint statement, they say that deferral period should be reduced to one year, or in other words that MSM question would only apply to sexual contact in the past twelve months.
Some donors at Friday’s blood drive in Medford say if a new policy means more fairness and more blood donations, that’s a good thing. Canada previously challenged their policy on MSM’s reducing it from a lifetime deferral to five years.
The Department of Health and Human Services and National Institutes of Health are funding research into those and other deferral policies. Some other examples of one-year deferrals are tattoos, international travel to areas with malaria, and organ transplants, to name a few. All blood samples are tested for HIV and ten other infectious diseases.