Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Blood Oaths

I thought it had been a while since we'd had controversy over this.
Gay men remain banned for life from donating blood, the government said Wednesday, leaving in place — for now — a 1983 prohibition meant to prevent the spread of HIV through transfusions.

The Food and Drug Administration reiterated its long-standing policy on its Web site Wednesday, more than a year after the Red Cross and two other blood groups criticized the policy as “medically and scientifically unwarranted.”

I must confess, I was curious about how they suddenly got around the HIV issue...until...
In March 2006, the Red Cross, the international blood association AABB and America’s Blood Centers proposed replacing the lifetime ban with a one-year deferral following male-to-male sexual contact.

Oh yes, you're going to find a lot of gays who will defer all sexual contact for a year just for the thrill of a needle stick with a juice-and-cookies chaser.

Of course, the reason why the FDA is being so cautious is elegantly laid out elsewhere; put bluntly, gay men, despite comprising a miniscule fraction of the population, constitute 58% of ALL HIV-infected individuals in the United States (and 74% of those in California).

Given that no one seems to be complaining about the ban on prostitutes and intravenous drug users, which are the next two groups most likely to be HIV-positive, I fail to see why the FDA should be compelled to give up a screen that, when put into effect, theoretically reduces the risk of HIV-infected blood entering the national supply, or exposing the people and equipment who collect it, by well over half.

In my opinion, the risk to others outweighs concerns for political correctness.

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