FDA Blood Donation Policies Should Be Revisited, Opinion Piece Says
The FDA decision not to accept blood donations from men who have had sex with men or people who have gotten tattooed or pierced in the previous 12 months in an attempt to protect the public from HIV and hepatitis C "def[y] reason," Todd Morman, a Raleigh, N.C.-based journalist and activist, says in a Newsday op-ed. In September the FDA decided to continue banning blood donations from any man who has had sex with a man -- even once -- since 1977. This "double standard makes no scientific sense" with the existence of an HIV test that can detect the presence of viral DNA as soon as 12 days after infection, Morman says, noting that a gay man who has been in a 10-year monogamous relationship with another man is less likely to "spread HIV into the U.S. blood supply" than a heterosexual man who has had unprotected sex with five women over the previous 13 months. The FDA has also banned blood donations from anyone who has gotten a tattoo or a body piercing in the previous year, a policy that "rel[ies] on an outdated notion of the cleanliness of modern tattooing" and "ignores" the fact that hepatitis C can be detected by a test six to seven weeks following infection, Morman continues. The FDA and the American Red Cross "need to take another look" at their rules for deferring "unacceptable" blood donors, especially at a time "when donor apathy is peaking and the amount of blood on reserve on any given day is dangerously low," Morman concludes (Morman, Newsday, 6/11).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.