One Equal World

Blood Ban

Posted on: July 1, 2013

donate blood

Healthy blood is healthy blood, no matter if you’re straight or gay.
Image: Shutterstock

When you are sick and in need of a blood transfusion, do you care where the blood came from?  If you really need it, you probably don’t.

Should all healthy people be able to donate blood?  It would seem so.  However, gay men are still banned from giving blood at donation centers due to a U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ruling.

The ban came about in the 1980s during the HIV epidemic.  It was intended to prevent “high-risk” people from tainting the blood center’s stored blood supply.  At that time, there was no real way to do an HIV test on donated blood.  Today, all blood is instantly tested.

It would make sense, then, to get rid of the ban.  It seems like there is always a shortage of donated blood as blood centers do a lot of mobile blood donation pushes.  The more healthy people who give blood the better, right?

blood test tube

All blood is immediately tested for HIV.
Image: Shutterstock

Recently the American Medical Association (AMA) spoke out against the ban.  In a report by ABC News, AMA board member Dr. William Kobler described the long-standing ban as “discriminatory” and “not based on sound science.”  AMA officials have suggested that the FDA change its policy so that gay men are evaluated individually rather than labeling all of them as “high risk.”

“This new policy urges a federal policy change to ensure blood donation bans or deferrals are applied to donors according to their individual level of risk and are not based on sexual orientation alone,” Kobler said, according to ABC.

In some good news, Canada has lifted their ban on gay men donating blood with a few restrictions.

“Recent scientific data and advances in transfusion safety led us to review the exclusion of men who have had sex with another man. This change is scientifically justified and will in no way endanger the high degree of safety of blood products,” Dr. Marc Germain, vice president of medical affairs at non-profit blood management organization Héma-Québec, said in a news release.

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