- Israel hits symbols of Hamas rule; scores killed
- Mississippi abortion law can’t be enforced
- Teacher who survived Sandy Hook has book deal
- Jury awards Jesse Ventura $1.8M in case vs. ‘American Sniper’ author Chris Kyle
- Government OKs Arab-owned company to operate U.S. cargo port
- Defense lawyer: McDonnell’s wife had ‘crush’ on CEO
- Chinese hackers stole ‘huge quantities’ of sensitive data on Israel’s Iron Dome
- House unveils bill to speed deportations of illegal immigrant children
- Californians protest middle school for hiring white man to teach cultural studies
- Killer’s sentencing overturned because mother couldn’t find seat in courtroom
Gay men push to end 30-year blood donation ban
Question of the Day
A push by activists to ease the 30-year-old blanket ban on blood donations from gay and bisexual men faces a key test this week as a federal panel hears results of the latest research. The findings will be released amid growing pressure from politicians and advocates, including college students, to change the policy.
Critics say the ban is a hangover from the early, fear-filled days of AIDS, stigmatizing gay men and ignoring advances in treatment and detection in the decades since.
Supporters of the policy say politics, not science, is driving the proposed change, which would heighten the risk of spreading HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, when the medical demand for blood donations is decreasing.
Under Food and Drug Administration rules, men who have had sex with men (MSM) since 1977 are ineligible to donate blood. An acknowledgment of having male homosexual relations at any time in one’s life is enough to disqualify a potential donor.
“This policy is discriminatory and inadequate,” said a petition drive at WhiteHouse.gov started in early November by students at the University of Michigan.
The students’ solution is to change the questionnaire to ask prospective blood donors, “Have you had unprotected sexual contact with a new partner in the past 12 weeks?”
A “yes” answer would trigger a deferral “based on the window period of HIV,” the petition said. “This change avoids discrimination and addresses risky behaviors that presently go overlooked. All individuals should be eligible to donate if they otherwise pass all of the FDA’s requirements, including a disease-free status,” the petition said.
Others say safety must remain the priority.
“The pressure for change is coming not because of a shortage of blood, but because of the politics of sexual orientation,” said Peter Sprigg, senior fellow for policy studies at the Family Research Council.
Such politicization “should not play any role in the decision making on a health-related issue, on protecting the health of the American people,” he said.
Weighing the evidence
On Thursday, members of the Department of Health and Human Services Advisory Committee on Blood and Tissue Safety and Availability will hear seven presentations on the MSM blood-donor issue.
In 2010, the advisory group agreed that the ban on MSM blood donations was “suboptimal” but kept it in place pending additional research to “create a road map forward,” as one panelist said.
This week’s presentations will provide updates about the blood-donor questionnaire, “quarantined” blood units and related studies designed to help craft a new MSM policy.
The FDA established the policy in 1985 after public health officials realized that thousands of hemophiliacs were receiving — and dying from — transfusions of HIV/AIDS-infected blood. Among the most famous victims: tennis star Arthur Ashe, believed to have received the disease from a transfusion during a coronary bypass operation.
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Cheryl Wetzstein covers family and social issues as a national reporter for The Washington Times. She has been a reporter for three decades, working in New York City and Washington, D.C. Since joining The Washington Times in 1985, she has been a features writer, environmental and consumer affairs reporter, and assistant business editor.
Beginning in 1994, Mrs. Wetzstein worked exclusively ...
- Mississippi abortion law can't be enforced
- Federal appeals court rules against Virginia's gay marriage ban
- Events honoring 20th National Parents' Day reaffirm family
- '50 Shades' movie trailer outrages anti-porn groups
- Tougher clinic rules lead to drop in Texas abortions
Latest Blog Entries
- Gay therapy ban author seeks Calif. House seat
- Transgender 'bathroom law' gets 5,000 more signatures
- Pro-life, stem-cell bill signed into law by Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback
- N. Dakota lawmakers approve tough abortion bill
- Pope Benedict XVI's successor should allow priests to get a new title: Husband, poll finds
TWT Video Picks
- Boehner rules out impeachment: 'Scam started by Democrats'
- Obama thanks Muslims for 'building the very fabric of our nation'
- PHILLIPS: Once-in-a-century stupidity
- Federal judge grants 90-day stay in D.C. gun case
- D.C. seeks to stay judge's order allowing gun owners to carry in public
- Obama: 'Not a new Cold War,' but new Russia sanctions announced
- Smugglers, rainstorm combine to poke holes in border fence
- Obama's brother wears Hamas scarf bearing anti-Israel slogans in photo
- Illegal immigrants demand representation in White House meetings
- Hillary Clinton: Forget Obama, George W. Bush made her 'proud to be an American'
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world