US rejects gay blood

Even though it's been criticised as "medically and scientifically unwarranted," the US Food and Drug Administration will continue its policy of banning gay men for life from donating blood.

In South Africa men who have had oral or anal sex with other men within the last six months are not allowed to donate blood.

The US policy - first introduced in 1983 as a way to prevent the spread of HIV through transfusions - was reiterated on the FDA Web site Wednesday, the Associated Press reported. HIV is the virus that causes Aids.

The policy restatement comes more than a year after the American Red Cross and two other blood groups - America's Blood Centres and the international blood association AABB - criticized the ban and suggested it be replaced with a one-year deferral after a man has sexual contact with another man.

The groups pointed out to the FDA that new and improved tests can detect HIV-positive blood donors within 10 to 21 days of infection, which means the lifetime ban on gay men isn't necessary, the AP reported.

However, the FDA contends that current HIV tests may be highly accurate, but cannot detect HIV 100 percent of the time. In the document posted Wednesday, the agency said it would change the policy if it receives data showing that doing so wouldn't pose a "significant and preventable risk" to blood recipients. – (HealthDayNews)

Read more:
HIV/Aids Centre

May 2007

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