Gay Activists Say Blood Donation Restrictions Are Outdated

June 13, 2008 09:47 AM
by findingDulcinea Staff
Several colleges in California are taking measures against the controversial federal policy of turning away healthy, gay men who want to donate blood.

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Gay men have been barred from giving blood ever since AIDS became a public health crisis. Activists say that the current rules are outdated and discriminatory, while federal agencies maintain that gay men are a high-risk group that are restricted out of concern for the blood supply, reports NPR.

"Men who have had sex with other men, at any time since 1977 … are currently deferred as blood donors. 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," reads a statement on the Food and Drug Administration's Web site.

Some college campuses in California have recently taken widely differing approaches to addressing the issue. San Jose State University banned blood drives in January. Sonoma State University's faculty issued a resolution saying that blood drives discriminate against gay men, but the school's president said that they will continue to hold them. Meanwhile, gay men at University of California Berkeley are recruiting other people to donate blood in their places, in order to make a statement while still saving lives.

Jeff Stier at the Huffington Post
said last year that while he acknowledges that the government's policy has some merit, as blood tests taken prior to transfusions are not 100 percent accurate, it is problematic that gay men are not allowed to donate even if they can provide proof that they are not HIV positive.

Headline Links: 'Blood Donation Rules Roil California Campuses'

Key Players: Sonoma State University, University of California Berkeley

Opinion and Analysis: 'Blood for Sale'

Related topics: Russia repeals ban, Tasmanian gay community

Reference: FDA, CDC


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