The American Red Cross held a blood drive at IU Cyclotron Facility between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m on the 28th. Unfortunately, because of wrongfully discriminating FDA regulations, not every individual who works at IUCF was able to donate.
Since 1992, the FDA has prohibited men who have had sex with other men (MSM) at any time since 1977 from donating blood, effectively barring much of the gay community from contributing to blood banks. The FDA explains, "This is because MSM are, as a group, at increased risk for HIV, hepatitis B and certain other infections that can be transmitted by transfusion."
Because there is a small, but finite, chance that blood screening will fail to identify an infected sample of blood, the aim of the policy is "to protect all people who receive blood transfusions from an increased risk of exposure to potentially infected blood and blood products."
The logic of this argument is correct so far as it goes. But the differential application of this thinking suggests less than admirable intentions.
There is a comparably high-risk group that is not similarly excluded from donation: African-Americans. Using the findings of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics and the 2000 Census, one can estimate that the HIV infection rate among MSM is about 2 to 7 percent, which is comparable to the 2 percent HIV infection rate among African-Americans. A 2005 Associated Press report warns of the "burgeoning epidemic" in the black community because of "drug addiction, poverty and poor access to health care."
A 2006 article of the Boston Globe, "Red Cross eases ban on gay donors," reports that the Red Cross, which formally supported the FDA ban in 2000, "now believes (MSM) should be able to donate if they go a year without gay sex" and that the prohibition is "unfair and discriminatory."
[Published here: http://www.idsnews.com/news/story.aspx?id=68394]