The New York Times Editorial Board ran this editorial a couple of days ago. Gay Men Should Be allowed to Give Blood.
"Although the American Red Cross regularly warns that the national blood supply is too low, the Food and Drug Administration arbitrarily excludes a slice of the population from becoming a donor. Any man who has had sex with another man since 1977 is “deferred” — a euphemism for “banned ” since the deferral lasts a lifetime.
This rule dates to the mid-1980s, when H.I.V. had just emerged in this country and scientists knew little about the virus. The F.D.A. was understandably worried about protecting the blood supply. But what was reasonable 30 years ago is now unjustifiable.
Recently, a federal advisory committee recommended moving to a one-year deferral; the F.D.A. will consider that advice on Dec. 2. Even a one-year deferral would be excessive, though, because it would still exclude the majority of adult gay men.
The F.D.A. argues that deferral is necessary because men who have sex with men are, as a group, at higher risk for contracting H.I.V. and other infections transmissible by blood. It also points out that there is a lag between when someone contracts a virus and when a blood test can detect it. (All donated blood is tested before it can be released to hospitals.) But the lag time for H.I.V. is nowhere near a year. It is about two weeks using advanced techniques.
The F.D.A.’s policy is illogical on several counts. For one, it groups all gay men into one excluded category. Why should a married gay man who always uses condoms be treated the same as a single gay man who never uses them? Another group under a lifetime ban is people who have accepted money or drugs in exchange for sex since 1977, which suggests that the agency thinks gay sex carries the same health risks as prostitution. Meanwhile, a man or woman who has had heterosexual sex with an intravenous drug user, or with someone who has tested positive for H.I.V., is deferred for only a year.
Several nations, including Argentina, Australia, Hungary, Japan and Sweden, have one-year deferrals. Australia changed to a one-year policy in 2000. In 2010, a study there found “no evidence of a significantly increased risk of transfusion-transmitted” H.I.V. A more sensible strategy is used in Italy and Spain, which screen for high-risk sexual practices, like unprotected sex or sex with multiple partners, and then defer donors on a case-by-case basis.
If the F.D.A. were to follow this approach, it would need to study how best to phrase a questionnaire, though it’s clear that more individualized risk assessment can work. A study published in 2013 found that Italy’s policy did not lead to a disproportionate increase in the number of H.I.V.-positive donors.
The F.D.A.’s policy is out of step with medical research. It stigmatizes gay men and unnecessarily limits the pool of possible blood donors. The agency could make a change without compromising the blood supply." ~ The New York Times Editorial Board, November 27, 2014
I wrote on this subject before and find it incredible that this rule is in effect. Certainly there is no argument that all blood should be tested before being sent out, but to have an arbitrary law that forbids on the basis of "being gay" is just pure stupid. Sometimes it is voodoo that we do.