Wednesday, February 27, 2008


It's about time. -

San Jose, Calif. - The Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors voted to formally oppose a lifetime ban on gay male blood donors. The board did not go as far as San Jose State University's policy banning blood drives, because they say they ultimately want to increase the local supply of blood and blood donations.
Last year, the Red Cross and the American Association of Blood Banks called on the FDA to reverse the lifetime ban, citing the fact that in most parts of the country, blood supplies are running critically low. Most of the donated blood we use here in the bay area comes from the midwest – it is, therefore, very expensive. All the donated blood, regardless of its source, undergoes thorough testing for everything from anemia to HIV but the FDA’s rules are still being applied to blood bank operations across the country.

Read AABB's joint statement on "behavior-based blood donor deferrals." [I love these euphemisms.]
AABB, ABC and ARC believe that the current lifetime deferral for men who have had sex with other men is medically and scientifically unwarranted and recommend that deferral criteria be modified and made comparable with criteria for other groups at increased risk for sexual transmission of transfusion-transmitted infections. Presenting blood donors judged to be at risk of exposure via heterosexual routes are deferred for one year while men who have had sex with another man even once since 1977 are permanently deferred.
I was deferred permanently due to Hepatitis B core antibody blood screening back in the late 1980's - one pint short of becoming a two gallon blood donor. If that were not the case, I'd still be permanently deferred because of my "behaviour." What do you all think of our local board of health introducing a (albeit symbolic) recommendation to the Burlington City Council in solidarity with the Santa Clara board? I know there have been concerns expressed on the UVM campus regarding these donor deferrals. I try to keep up on blood donor news and issues; I was not aware of the AABB/ARC recommendations a few years ago.

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