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PostPosted: Mon Feb 08, 2016 6:51 am 
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Guess who says homosexual blood is so filthy that it can't even be donated to save lives? Obama's FDA, headed by former Monsanto VP
by: David Gutierrez
FDA, dangerous blood, gay men

In another example of prioritizing politics over science, the FDA continues to insist that lifesaving blood donations cannot be accepted from sexually active gay men.


The FDA's policy "ignores the modern science of HIV-testing technology while perpetuating the stereotype that all gay and bisexual men are inherently dangerous," said Kelsey Louie, chief executive officer of the group GMHC.

A more science-based approach, critics say, would be to individually screen donors for high-risk behaviors, as is done in some other countries. This would guarantee the safety of the blood supply without needlessly excluding large numbers of donors.

But science-blind policies are no surprise from the FDA, which is notorious for making decisions dictated more by political and financial interests. The agency is well known, for example, for having a "revolving door" with drug and biotechnology companies (such as Monsanto), undercutting its ability to effectively regulate products from those industries.

The science behind the bans

On December 21, the FDA overturned a 30-year policy of banning all gay men from donating blood. But the new policy still bans men from donating blood for a full year after their last sexual encounter with another man. This is meant to prevent HIV transmission through donated blood, even though nearly 90 percent of gay men in the United States are HIV-negative.

Furthermore, all donated blood is screened for HIV, which can be detected nine days after infection. In that light, a 12-month waiting period is unnecessarily strict.

According to the FDA, the shift from a permanent to a 12-month ban is based on studies conducted during Australia's similar policy switch. But the agency admits that it did not look at any data for shorter waiting periods, such as the 30-day period recommended by critics such as Daniel Bruner, senior policy director at Whitman-Walker Health.

More effective than banning all gay men from donating, would be to screen all potential blood donors for risky behaviors – including unprotected sex and IV drug use – as is done in South Africa and Italy.

"It is ridiculous and counter to the public health that a married gay man in a monogamous relationship can't give blood, but a promiscuous straight man who has had hundreds of opposite sex partners in the last year can," said congressman Jared Polis.

Resistance to such a change may come, in part, from the fact that South Africa and Italy use specially trained personnel to screen blood donors. The United States, in contrast, uses much cheaper, unskilled labor – often untrained blood technicians or even automated computer systems. A more targeted screening program would probably be much more costly.

Life-saving blood kept out of national supply

But what are the health consequences of refusing to adopt this more nuanced blood donor screening system?

According to a 2010 study conducted by researchers from the University of California-Los Angeles, shifting from a lifetime ban to a 12-month ban would be expected to add about 317,000 pints of blood per year to the U.S. supply. Removing the 12-month ban would add nearly as much – another 298,000 pints per year.

The fact that the FDA had been keeping so much usable blood out of the national supply spurred 18 senators to write to the agency in 2010, charging that "healthy blood donors are turned away every day due to an antiquated policy and our blood supply is not necessarily any safer for it."

"While many gay and bisexual men will be eligible to donate their blood and help save lives under [the new] 12-month deferral, countless more will continue to be banned solely on the basis of their sexual orientation and without medical or scientific reasoning," said the National Gay Blood Drive.

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PostPosted: Thu Apr 14, 2016 3:46 pm 
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